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City of Coquitlam requiring developer to hire 3rd-party engineer after shoring wall collapse

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The City of Coquitlam has ordered the developer behind a construction project on Foster Avenue that suffered a catastrophic, caught-on-camera collapse Wednesday to hire a third-party geotechnical engineer as it works to remediate the site. 

Jaw-dropping video posted on social media Thursday shows cracks forming in a shoring retention wall at 500 Foster Ave., near North Road. 

A section of the wall then breaks off, tumbling several storeys into an excavation site and unleashing a torrent of soil behind it.

A pair of inspection reports provided to CTV News by WorkSafeBC on Friday shed some light on the timeline of the collapse.

According to the documents, the incident began at 11 a.m. Wednesday, when a worker noticed some pebbles falling from the excavated wall.

"The worker contacted the prime contractor and the area was evacuated," the reports read, adding that the engineer for the project was called and asked to attend.

By sometime between 1:30 and 2 p.m., a crack had formed in the wall. Around the same time, crews contacted the city and FortisBC. They also closed Foster Avenue to all traffic.

The collapse occurred around 4:45 p.m., according to the reports.

In an update Friday, the city said Foster Avenue remained closed between North Road and Whiting Way, though pedestrians were being allowed to access the north side of Foster.

Road closures will remain in place until remediation is complete, the city said.

Coquitlam said it joins developer Amacon Construction Ltd. in apologizing to neighbours for the inconveniences of road closures and overnight construction noise.

The city said its staff have been working with Amacon since the collapse, noting that shoring walls are temporary structures not subject to the BC Building Code or city oversight.

Such structures are, instead, governed by the professional standards of Engineers and Geoscientists B.C., the regulatory body that oversees the engineering and geoscience professions.

Asked about the collapse on Thursday, EGBC told CTV News it's "too early to speculate" on any regulatory actions that could potentially result from the incident.

"As an added precaution on this building site, the City of Coquitlam has taken the extra step of requiring the developer to hire a third-party geotechnical engineer to provide oversight of the remediation work," the city's update reads.

"While this is not standard practice, city officials felt it was important to ensure there was additional oversight and trust for the protection of city infrastructure as well as the surrounding neighbourhood."

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Andrew Weichel 

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