The incident occurred on August 25, 2021, at the intersection of Chesterfield Avenue and West Esplanade in North Vancouver.
The 3-story building opened as Esplanade 6 Cinema during the 1990s and was later handled by Empire Theatres, Landmark Cinemas and Cineplex but 2 years ago it was shut down. According to reports, it was under demolition when the partial collapse struck. A 9-story mixed-use building was planned to replace the current structure. The collapse was sudden and laborers were inside the building when it happened. People in the area reported hearing the noise and feeling the shaking.
The city's Police and Fire departments were employed to search for victims in the debris. Nonetheless, entering the building was not an easy task for authorities. David Boone, assistant chief of the Vancouver Fire Rescue Services, called 25 experts including structural engineers to perform an assessment on the stability of the structure so that further collapses do not take place. The team developed a scheme to stabilize some critical structural parts of the building before allowing the rescue teams to enter it. Rescuers found another person that was injured after being caught in machinery equipment. He was hospitalized but remained in stable condition. Some local roads were closed to assist the rescue efforts.
Little information has been provided on the nature of the partial failure. Photographs from the scene indicate that large parts of masonry and the floor of the last story gave way while some concrete columns remained intact. A person living nearby reported witnessing the incident. He mentioned that demolitions works were being conducted on the morning of that day. In particular, an excavator was operating, breaking down walls of the structure and 2 people were working on the site. Suddenly, the floor collapsed sending the excavator and the laborers under the rubble. "It was an unexpected thing to happen. There was obviously a crash sound. It sounded like it happened all at once," he stated.
Linda Buchanan, Major of North Vancouver, sent her condolences on Twitter: "...Today’s events are a tragedy for our community and an unimaginable loss for the family and friends of the worker who died."
The case is currently handled by North Vancouver Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigators. The investigators will determine if any criminality took place and led to the failure. Their aim is to identify the main cause of the incident but also any additional factors that may have contributed to the partial failure. Deriving those elements will help prevent similar incidents in the future.