July 12, 2021, changed Kelowna.
At 10:55 a.m. a crane collapsed at a construction site downtown.
Eric Stemmer, Patrick Stemmer, Jared Zook, Brad Zawislak, and Cailen Vilness died that day, leaving coworkers, friends, family, and strangers in mourning.
Knowles Heritage Park has been chosen as the home for the Rise Memorial in honour of the men.
A ceremony was held on July 12, at the park to unveil designs for the memorial and mark two years since the tragic event.
Vice president of the North Okanagan Labour Council and the Rise Memorial Project Manager Kelly Hutchinson lead the event.
“My intention back in 2021…was to simply run a candlelight vigil, a nice gesture in a time of chaos quite frankly, and then kind of fade into the background. But what I was met within the community and seeing the potential for rising above the pain in that way told me there was more to come and there was more healing we could do to actually try and turn the page. I couldn’t be a part of it.”
Ecora Engineering stepped up to design the memorial, spending a great deal of time speaking with family members of those who died.
Tanya Reid spoke on behalf of the company about the process and the design.
“This memorial garden will be a place for families and community to heal, reflect, and remember. We call this the Rise Memorial because the word evokes the promise of hope, it brings to mind trees rising to the sky and buildings rising from nothing.”
The design includes four gardens – one for each family – and five trees – one for each life lost.
“Each garden rises up and spirals toward the centre. The spiral represents the sacred connection to each other; it’s in our DNA and the vastness of the universe. Life can spiral out of control… the circle around the sacred space represents oneness, wholeness, community, or God holding us together.”
Posters of design renderings were on display and the ceremony was held in the exact place the memorial will be built.
Mayor Tom Dyas spoke on behalf of the city, while family of some of the victims shared words of gratitude and sorrow.
The bagpipes preceded the minute of silence at 10:55 a.m. The solemn blast of five air horns from the downtown construction site, where the incident took place, could be heard faintly in the background.
WorkSafeBC was recognized by Hutchinson during speeches to thank them for being one of the first donors to the project, committing $10,000 to the build.
United Way has created a fundraiser online to collect donations. The fundraiser goal is $300,000.
Renderings of the memorial can be found on the website.