On Monday August 5, while most of the country was enjoying a Civic Holiday, Montreal contractors were back to work after a government-mandated, two-week vacation. And oh what a disastrous day back to work it was!
Tragedy stuck when a 32-year-old man was hit in the head by a large metal object near the Bell Centre. Police reported a 12-ft. metal plate was being maneuvered into place, when it broke and fell off the equipment that was carrying it. The man, who happened to be walking near the site, was struck and killed on impact.
Across town a massive sinkhole swallowed a bulldozer and its operator at the corner of St. Catherine and Guy Streets. The construction crew was preparing to start work when the pavement gave way. According to the Montreal Gazette, the man inside the bulldozer was transferred to hospital with minor injuries.
If this weren’t enough for one day, in another entirely separate part of town, a construction site near a children’s hospital was briefly shutdown after police received reports of a suspicious package. The site was searched, and soon reopened after nothing was found.
This series of bizarre incidents, paired with ongoing press surrounding Montreal’s ongoing corruption probe, is making life for honest, hardworking construction firms tough. A local radio station even went so far as to ask: “Is Montreal falling apart?”
On that particular day, it certainly seemed like the city just couldn’t catch a break.
In reality, local contractors are doing everything in their power to stay out of the spotlight. One contractor, who did not want to be named, said: “The only thing we can do right now is keep our heads down, work hard and try not to draw any attention to ourselves. Everyone is under scrutiny.”
As timid as many contractors are currently feeling, there’s also optimism that a cleanup of organized crime in the construction sector will mean bigger jobs for legit contractors that operate transparent businesses.
“Montreal contractors are under a microscope. The firms that are going to do well at the end of all this are the ones that are willing to lay all their cards on the table,” said another contractor.
Conspiracy theories aside, the events of August 5th are a reminder to us all, that bad things happen to good contractors, and I for one am hoping Montreal’s luck begins to turn soon.