Downtown 2020 Part 4: Behind scenes look at building condo towers in Victoria

Downtown 2020 Part 4: Behind scenes look at building condo towers in Victoria

WATCH: What goes into building a condo or office tower? Tess van Straaten takes you behind the scenes of construction in part four of our Downtown 2020 series.

Digging deeper and deeper, three excavators worked on a gaping hole in downtown Victoria on Thursday, lifting out thousands of tonnes of dirt to make way for two new condo towers on Johnson.

“You’re really going to see something special here,” Farmer Construction project manager Trevor Weber said.

READ MORE: Downtown 2020 Part 1: What is behind downtown Victoria?s rapid growth?

But before excavation can even begin, there’s a geotechnical survey of what’s below the surface.

“That’s going to help us know where the blasting, where the drilling is going to have to take place,” Weber said.

“It’s going to help us where our shoring is going to take place so we can prevent collapses and from the surrounding area.”

READ MORE: Downtown 2020 Part 2: The compromise of living in downtown Victoria

In deep excavations, walls around the hole are reinforced with mesh, sprayed concreted and steel columns ?the first of many steps in what will be a two-year build.

The Jawl Properties project across from Victoria City Hall is more than half-way through a three-year build and at any given time, there are around 300 workers on site.

“I work with the cranes all day, lifting up things and putting them down,” rigger Dillon Cox said.

With the building boom, there are now a staggering 15,000 people working construction in Greater Victoria alone and it’s not enough.

“To say there’s a need for construction workers is an understatement,” Rory Kulmala of the Vancouver Island Construction Association said. “We have an extremely large capacity for work right now that needs to be feed.”

“We have an extremely large capacity for work right now that needs to be feed.”

But there are lots of challenges to building vertically and it’s a highly orchestrated process, with concrete laid and cured for each new level with subcontractors coming in behind.

“We then progress with the concrete floors above them and as we pull the reshore out, the subcontractors would carry on behind us,” Mark Robertson of Campbell Construction said. “And it just keeps going and going that way all the way up.”

The next step is the finishing stage, and that’s where the Azzurro project on Blanshard is at.

READ MORE: Downtown 2020 Part 3: Businesses betting on downtown as the winning location

“For the most part, it goes fairly well once you get to that stage and trades are trying to get out of the building as well,” Bill McEwen of Knappett Construction said. 

The project is just weeks away from being done, after what is often a five-year endeavour from planning and zoning to completion.

“It is a ton of work to be able to get the project out of the ground,” Alanna Holroid of Real Homes Development said. 

“It’s a crazy thing to do so If it was easy everybody would be doing it and it is not easy.”

But developers and construction crews says it’s definitely rewarding as they help shape the future of Victoria.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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