Don’t blame engineers

Rod Retzlaff implies it was the decision of “engineering” to demolish the burned out shell of the Kerr Apartment block, and that “whatever engineer decided to destroy this beautiful old building should hang his or her head in shame.”

Re: “Kerr deserved better fate,” July 8

Rod Retzlaff implies it was the decision of “engineering” to demolish the burned out shell of the Kerr Apartment block, and that “whatever engineer decided to destroy this beautiful old building should hang his or her head in shame.”

This is highly unlikely, unless it was an engineer who owned this property, which is not the case.

The true likelihood is that the owner hired a consulting engineering firm to evaluate the remaining structure and provide estimates of what it would take in terms of time, technical feasibility and costs, to restore the building.  The owner — not the engineer — that then made the demolition decision, based on those factors, and presumably also on his/her sense of history in the community.

As for Mr. Retzlaff’s comment: “Must be the same engineers that decided that they had to close off the spiral staircase in the old City Hall…” again, engineers would have provided the city with an evaluation of the condition of this, and presumably a process and cost to bring it into compliance with the building code to protect the public from a safety hazard, and the city from lawsuits. The city (or perhaps Touchstones) then made the decision to close it off rather than go to the trouble and expense.

One can understand Mr. Retzlaff’s emotional dismay at the disappearance of parts of Nelson’s visible history. None of us like to see this happen, but engineers rarely decide these things; they provide the kind of professional analysis and evaluation that allows the person with the chequebook to do the deciding.

Mr. Retzlaff needs to do his homework on these unhappy events so he can target his anger more accurately.

Bob Wilson



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