Colwood residents shattered a month after blasting chaos

Almost a month after blasting at a Colwood construction site sent rocks crashing onto a nearby neighbourhood, some residents say they are still unnerved and have not had reassurance that all repair costs will be recovered.

Owners of homes on Pondside Terrace that were damaged on April 13 are considering trying to meet Tri-X Excavating, which was blasting massive amounts of rock about 100 metres away at 517 Latoria Rd. for a housing development managed by Homewood Constructors.

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Chunks of rock landed throughout the neighbourhood, puncturing two roofs and shattering the window of a parked car.

“Everyone is absolutely beside themselves. Nobody will give us any answers,” said Jorgia Olsen, whose house was the worst hit.

“We’ve heard nothing from Tri-X. We’ve been put out for four weeks and nothing’s done. Nobody’s checked on it.”

Two Tri-X employees went to the neighbourhood immediately after the blast, but that has been it, Olsen said.

Olsen, who has fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by widespread pain, said she remains traumatized that the jagged 17-pound rock that hurtled through their bedroom ceiling could have killed her husband, Darryl, had he been napping instead of being in the kitchen.

The rock broke a roof truss, the ceiling and smashed the bed frame and mattress bought specifically to ease Jorgia Olsen’s medical condition. The stress has prompted her to consider consulting a personal injury lawyer.

WorkSafe B.C. first suspended the blaster’s permit for seven days, but has extended the suspension to 45 days.

A man who answered the phone at Tri-X Excavating Ltd. of Victoria would not comment.

WorkSafe decided that the blaster’s certificate would not be reinstated until he retakes the blasting certificate exam, reviews his infractions with an examiner and demonstrates knowledge of corrective actions to prevent a reoccurrence, said WorkSafe spokeswoman Trich Chernecki.

Olsen said she remains frightened when taking a shower upstairs in case there is another rock barrage, given the amount of blasting that is still expected.

So far, the Olsens have dealt only with their own insurance agency. “And so far, nobody has said: you don’t have to pay your deductible or your insurance rates aren’t going to go up,” Jorgia Olsen said.

John Newton, president of Homewood, said he understood that Tri-X had “allayed” the financial fears of the residents regarding repairs. “There will be no costs to the residents,” he said.

“Let’s hope so,” Olsen said.

Newton was in Mexico at the time of the blast and said he was shocked to hear of it, adding it was the first such experience in nearly 30 years as a construction management company. Tri-X has been hired in the past and “never had a problem,” Newton said. “I’m just so sorry that it happened.”

The blasting permit issued by Colwood in November expires on May 31.

Brian Belcher, of Bezanton Way, said he expects it will be extended.

He feels “a little bit uneasy” about the scale of the blasting. “It’ll just continue and this is just phase one,” Belcher said.

Phase one calls for 27 homes out of about 60 planned for the 5.6-hectare site.

“I just hope that they monitor the situation closely,” Belcher said.

CIty of Colwood spokeswoman Sandra Russell did not respond to written questions regarding residents’ concerns about further monitoring of the blast site. Russell has said that municipalities have no role in investigating blasting practices, but Colwood requires that blasting companies adhere to WorkSafe B.C. policies.

kdedyna@timescolonist.com

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