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City addresses public safety issue of Ming Sun Building

December 10 2013 Demolition crews on site today to help make external structure safe

Chinatown

The City engaged a demolition company and a structural engineer this morning to oversee and undertake the removal of the bricks on the west wall and chimney of the Ming Sun Building in an effort to make the external structure safe. This decision was based on a number of factors, including the recent reports of two professional engineers, City inspections, and discussions with the building owners.

When it was reported to the City that the east brick façade of the Ming Sun Building collapsed into the neighbouring building on July 24, the immediate risk to the public became evident, and it was determined the building had not been adequately maintained. The City will now work with Ming Sun to allow them to reassess their approach to addressing the many outstanding concerns in regard to the structural issues in the building, and determine next steps.

History of events

Over the past five months, the City of Vancouver has taken repeated steps to ensure the safety of the Ming Sun Building at 437-441 Powell Street. Unfortunately, the owners have refused to provide a plan to make the urgent repairs required. The Ming Sun Benevolent Society themselves informed the City on November 14 that the building is beyond repair and should be demolished.

The City supported this decision and on November 15, 2013, ordered the demolition of the building in order to ensure the safety of the public and ensure that the site conditions do not deteriorate any further.

The Ming Sun Society was instructed to begin work at the site no later than yesterday. While Ming Sun had discussions with a contractor to start the work, as of 4:00pm yesterday afternoon, that had not happened and there was still a public safety issue concerning the brick façade.

The City is supportive of the heritage concerns related to this building; however, our first concern is ensuring the safety of both the public and the neighbouring building. Once that is secured, the property owner can assess the remaining structural and heritage issues and return to the City with a plan.

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Heritage conservation

Council's long-term goal is to protect as many historically important buildings, sites, and trees as possible, through designation, incentives to developers, and public education programs.