Members of the Aquilini family were fined the biggest amount in B.C. last year for worker-safety violations.
WorkSafe B.C. vice-president Al Johnson said a farm vehicle used to transport workers on an Aquilini enterprise wasn’t maintained in a “safe operating condition.”
The Aquilinis – who own the Vancouver Canucks – were fined $125,277, topping a list of 260 penalties levied by the worker-safety agency last year.
Johnson said the fine was large because it was “the same type of violation as happened a year before. This was one of those things where they should have known better.”
The 570-hectare property, the Golden Eagle blueberry farm, is in the 16300-block Aquilini Avenue in Pitt Meadows. It’s owned by Francesco, Roberto, and Elisa Aquilini.
Johnson said the intent of the fine was to get the employer’s attention.
“We use it as a tool to motivate employers’ compliance. We’re hoping this won’t happen again,” he said.
Johnson said the blueberry farm responded to an incident in May 2011 by promising to correct conditions. He said that didn’t happen because it occurred a second time in July 2011.
“This put the safety of the firm’s workers and others at risk,” said Johnson.
The $125,277 fine, the firm’s second, came down in February 2012.
Golden Eagle rep John Negrin said that safety violations had been addressed and proper procedures were in place in a September 2012 interview. He wasn’t available Monday.
The Aquilinis are one of B.C.’s wealthiest families. Their net worth was estimated at $5 billion in a 2007 report.
Holdings include the Canucks, Rogers Arena, and surrounding land, which were valued at $500 million. They also own and manage hotels; condo projects have been estimated at $1 billion. Additional properties include office towers, golf courses, and a pizza franchise.
The second-and third-highest penalties in WorkSafe’s 2012 list, meanwhile, were imposed against Skylite Building Maintenance Ltd. for chronically exposing workers to asbestos, said Johnson. Each penalty was for $105,000.