We were disappointed by this statement made by Mission Group on Friday. https://www.missiongroup.ca/content/uploads/2021/10/BernardBlockUpdate-Oct29.pdf We (organizers of the petition) have still not heard directly from Mission Group and this statement feels patronizing to those of us that were speaking out against the continuation of the project making it seem like we are simply confused about the differences between the sites. Of course Bertram Tower is a different site in theory but Mission Group is still in charge. They themselves call the project the "Bernard Block Tower Project". The saying "if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck it's probably a duck" comes to mind.....
To: Mission Group
Honour and Respect the Fallen Workers of the Kelowna Crane Accident
We are writing on behalf of a group of close friends and some family of the fallen workers in the tragic accident in Kelowna on the morning of July 12th. We are shocked by the announcement that cranes will be going up on Tuesday, October 26th to start the final phase of the tower project. In their statement Mission Group said, “The safety deployment plan includes comprehensive procedures for crane assembly and dismantling, including operator qualifications and training.” To some, this implies that there was an absence of these measures in place under the management of the previously subcontracted crane company, when in fact, many construction companies in Kelowna came swiftly to the defense of the family run business in the wake of the devastating news. In a public statement, Emry Frameworks wrote, “It’s evident that they’ve committed themselves to using top of the line equipment for everything and their dedication to uphold the highest standard is apparent… that crew speak of their comradery, their gentle souls, and their ease of working together. Those kinds of people and that kind of culture isn’t created by companies who believe in cutting corners.” Similarly, Pump Pro Concrete Pumping spoke of their refusal to cut corners, citing that they were aware a more expensive crane than was necessary was purchased precisely because nothing but the best would do for their crew.
In light of the fact that an investigation into the cause of the collapse is still underway, these statements by Mission Group and the continuation of the project prior to even installing any kind of memorial feels disrespectful.
While the families have set about picking up the pieces of their lives left shattered by the sacrifice of their loved ones to earn profit for the owners of Mission Group, it would seem it is business as usual for them. Some of the families have been told Mission group is planning to reveal a memorial by Christmas. The fact that this project has moved forward at record speed while the memorial has to wait has put into perspective exactly what Mission Groups priorities are, and it doesn’t seem to be the appreciation of the workers that risk their lives everyday to build these projects.
We are giving Mission Group an opportunity to prove us wrong. We are asking that they consider the request to convert the property into a green space park that was circulating in the summer. If the greenspace is not possible, we are at the very least asking that the project be delayed until the WorkSafeBC investigation is complete and a proper memorial installed in consultation with the families. We feel this is in the interest of public safety as well as respect for the collective grief of the families and the community.
Why is this important?
The public needs to be reminded that there are many possibilities that could have led to this catastrophic event, and without a completed investigation, there is no way for Mission Group to assure public safety. BC Minister of Labour Harry Baines said himself when asked about increased regulations for developers and construction trades that it would be “inappropriate to comment until the investigation is complete.” We are asking: is it not equally inappropriate for construction to resume on the same site until that same investigation is complete in case there are recommendations that are necessary to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
“There are so many painful layers to this experience so far. It is all still raw for everyone. We are just asking for a little time without being reminded of what those buildings took from our families. When the accident first happened I felt a connection to the site as it was where Cailen took his last breath. The memorial site now has construction all around it and the memorial looks to become insignificant in the big picture of the project and the site itself. This is going to be a long grieving process and the families need a place to go and remember their loved ones and not be reminded of the tragedy with all the surrounding construction. Our loved ones are not collateral damage, they mean more than deadlines and money.” -Chris Vilness
Mission Group itself expresses one of their core values as “building it right,” and goes on to describe themselves as, “honest, transparent and committed to doing the right thing with uncompromising integrity. We know that what is right is not the same as what is easy, and while we may fall short at times, we always make it right. This is our foundation.” Given this commitment, we feel it should be a very easy decision to right this wrong. They either comply with these requests to pause, connect, and consult, or make it clear that these words on their website are nothing more than that- words that do nothing to honour five souls gone too soon in favour of profit over integrity.