Pressure mounts on province for answers to deadly apartment collapse

The Ontario government must accelerate its investigation into the partial collapse of the Teeple Terrace apartment in London a year ago that killed two workers, according to political and construction industry observers.

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The Ontario government must accelerate its investigation into the partial collapse of an apartment in London almost a year ago that killed two workers, according to political and construction industry observers.

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The Department of Labor must make the tragedy a priority and release its findings quickly to ensure it does not happen again, said New Democrat MP for London West Peggy Sattler.

“The ministry needs to speed up the process. Not only does the family need answers, but we must learn from this tragedy to avoid similar tragedies, ”said Sattler, NDP spokesperson at the Department of Labor.

“The construction industry has taken off throughout COVID. We see cranes and constructions like we have never seen before. It is important that we find out what happened.

On December 11, 2020, a partial collapse occurred after concrete was poured on the fourth floor during the construction of a building at 555 Teeple Terrace in Wonderland Road. Two concrete workers, John Martens, 21, of Langton and Henry Harder, 26, of Tillsonburg have died. Five workers were injured.

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When the building called Nest on Wonderland collapsed, some of the estimated 40 workers at the construction site described seeing a section of freshly poured concrete on the fourth floor of the four-story building give way and crash into each floor below . on the ground, taking with it the exterior wall of the building.

Ontario Labor Minister Monte McNaughton said there are many factors to study in the collapse and it is not uncommon for an investigation into which workers have died to take a year.

“As the anniversary of this tragedy approaches, I pledge to bring together government, business and workers to ensure that something like this never happens again. My department is working as quickly and diligently as possible on its investigation so that friends and families of victims get the answers they deserve, ”said McNaughton, who represents the riding of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.

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The London-area construction industry is also closely monitoring the ministry’s findings, said Jared Zaifman, chief executive of the London Home Builders’ Association. The collapse shocked the construction industry which prides itself on safety, he said.

“We just want to understand what happened here. It was a horrible tragedy and we need answers. We want to know from the ministry where this is on the priority list, ”Zaifman said.

“The industry prides itself on being as safe as possible. They want to be prepared and want to know what the problems are. We want that as soon as possible. It’s frustrating.”

The impending first anniversary also sparked a reaction from Patty Coates, president of the Ontario Federation of Labor, who is increasingly concerned about accidents and tragedies in the construction industry in Ontario.

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Last week, a worker was killed while building and maintaining a GO train in Pickering, she said.

  1. Michelle Doornbosch is president of Nest on Wonderland, the London apartment project that partially collapsed on Friday, killing two workers.  She is seen at the building site, at Teeple Terrace and Wonderland Road in West London, a day after the incident.  Photograph taken on Saturday December 12, 2020. Mike Hensen / The London Free Press

    “Devastated”: the owners of a collapsed building speak out

  2. Construction continues at 555 Teeple Terrace, the site of a fatal partial building collapse in December 2020 that killed two workers.  Photo taken in London on Wednesday November 24, 2021. Derek Ruttan / The London Free Press

    Homeowners sue insurer for $ 4 million in fatal construction collapse

  3. Workers at 555 Teeple Terrace prepare to close a door on the construction site on Thursday.  The apartments are advertised for rent by September.  (Mike Hensen / The London Free Press)

    Apartments advertised for rent in a building that partially collapsed in December

  4. A construction worker who was trapped under the rubble is taken in an ambulance after the partial collapse of a building under construction on Wonderland Road in Teeple Terrace in London on Friday December 11, 2020. Two people were killed and five others injured in the incident.  (Derek Ruttan / The London Free Press)

    Families of workers injured in construction collapse sue for $ 2 million

  5. Construction continues at 555 Teeple Terrace, the site of a fatal partial building collapse in December 2020 that killed two workers.  Photo taken in London on Wednesday November 24, 2021. Derek Ruttan / The London Free Press

    Homeowners sue insurer for $ 4 million in fatal construction collapse

  6. Construction worker Jacob Hurl meets one of his rescuers, London firefighter Stephen Hilton, at London's No.3 fire station on Monday.  Hurl was trapped for 4.5 hours in the rubble of the Nest on Wonderland, an apartment building that partially collapsed on December 11, 2020, while under construction.  (Derek Ruttan / The London Free Press)

    “To see him walk is incredible”: worker injured in collapse meets rescuers

  7. Workers were allowed to return to the construction site at 555 Teeple Terrace on Wednesday.  The four-story building partially collapsed on December 11, killing two men and injuring five others.  (Derek Ruttan / The London Free Press)

    Workers cleared to return to construction site two months after deadly collapse

“Last year was a deadly period on construction sites in Ontario. It was devastating and unacceptable and the killings did not stop, ”Coates said.

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She also called for local police to investigate the deaths using the prism of criminal negligence in Bill C-45.

“We need to see this kind of accountability from our justice system. Too often, accountability and action for workplace injuries and fatalities comes too slowly. When investigations are protracted, it is not only difficult to hold workplaces accountable, but it means workers have to wait longer for changes that may be needed on job sites to ensure that incidents that put workers at risk do not. reproduce more. “

As the construction industry and families await the findings of the investigation, the tragedy has attracted significant legal attention. Two lawsuits were filed in the apartment accident. The owners of Nest on Wonderland Inc. are suing their insurance company Intact Insurance for $ 4 million, claiming the insurer refuses to pay some damages related to the collapse.

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In a notice of claim filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Nest on Wonderland states that Intact Insurance has agreed to cover certain damages, but that it “also relies on a policy exclusion that excludes the coverage of the repair costs of a faulty or improper design. . “

A lawyer representing Intact declines to comment on the lawsuit.

Additionally, family members of some injured workers have filed a $ 2 million lawsuit against Nest, the City of London, the Ontario Ministry of Labor and others linked to the project, arguing that the owners of the project had failed to ensure that it complied with the Ontario Building Code Act. and that the town hall and the provincial ministry did not ensure the safety of the workers.

In its defense, the town hall denies the allegations made against it, adding that it does not take any responsibility for the collapse or the injuries of the workers. He also alleges that he learned after the collapse that changes were made to the building’s design that were not approved by city officials.

The Ministry of Labor has filed a notice indicating that it intends to defend itself against this lawsuit. The other defendants have not yet responded, according to the court file last week.

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About Nancy Owens

Nancy Owens

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