Two years ago, five men died in downtown Kelowna, B.C., when a construction crane collapsed.
On Wednesday morning, plans for a permanent memorial were unveiled at Knowles Memorial Park, three blocks east of the deadly incident along the 1400 block of St. Paul Street on July 12, 2021.
Cailen Vilness, Jared Zook and brothers Eric and Patrick Stemmer were construction workers who died that day. Also killed was Brad Zawislak when the falling crane hit the building he was in.
The crane, operated by Stemmer Construction, was being disassembled when it collapsed.
Scores of people were in attendance at Knowles Park on Wednesday morning.
The park will be redesigned and will include dedicated areas for each of the five men.
“It’s going to be a major transformation,” said Tanya Reid, landscape design technologist with Ecora Engineering, the company that designed the memorial site in consultation with the families of the victims.
Fundraising, with a goal of $300,000, is underway for the design, construction and maintenance of the memorial.
“The Rise Memorial will immortalize the memories of the five men lost and evolve over time as a key anchor point in the downtown Kelowna landscape, giving everyone a space to grieve, remember, reminisce, and be truly present in the power of community,” reads a fundraiser being hosted by United Way of British Columbia.
The plans were unveiled during the one-hour-long gathering. And at 10:55 a.m., when the crane collapsed, bagpipes were played.
“It’s so painful and every day,” said Danielle Pritchett, the mother of Cailen Vilness. “Every day is equally painful and it’s not getting better.”
The memorial will feature four gardens (one for each family) and five trees (one for each life lost).
“I think it will be a healing place for a lot of people because I think it will be a place of peace,” said Steven Zook, father of Jared Zook.
The City of Kelowna is working closely with the North Okanagan Labour Council, which has been pushing for the memorial.
“You’re able to sit here,” said mayor Tom Dyas.
“You are still able to see in the distance the towers, but be far enough away to know that it’s a little bit in the past.”