‘Ottawa’ The Ottawa Sinkhole Van Guy: He’s Got New Wheels, and a Commemorative Chair
Nearly two months after his van was sucked into the abyss of Ottawa’s sinkhole, locksmith Michel Kiwan has a new set of wheels along with a bright blue chair with a picture of the infamous hole.
The new van was mostly paid for by insurance; the chair was a gift from an artist who thought he should have it.
Kiwan got the chair that was painted with a likeness of the hole and “2016 Ottawa sinkhole” after the artist who painted it dropped in one day and offered it to him. He set it up in the store.
“People come in and take some pictures beside the chair,” said Kiwan, laughing. “It is something to remind you.”
But new chairs aside, Kiwan said the social media fame that came with having his van vanish into the gaping hole on Rideau Street on June 8 hasn’t saved him from a financial hit.
Insurance didn’t cover the entire replacement cost of the Dodge Caravan.
“We ended up paying more,” said Kiwan, the owner of First Choice Locksmith on Wellington Street near Parkdale Avenue. “The price went up from Chrysler.”
Kiwan said the 2014 van he purchased originally came with a $20,000 price tag, but by 2016, the price of a new van had climbed to $24,800. Insurance only covered the original amount.
Kiwan said he’s replaced the tools and locks that were in the van out of his own pocket for now. The claim for the thousands in equipment is being dealt with separately through his commercial business insurance. The van had been parked in a loading zone outside the Rideau Centre while his technician, Paul Charette, worked inside the mall.
Charette was willing to move the van while the hole was still small, Kiwan said, but was told by firefighters it was too dangerous.
The old van is currently encased in concrete under the new asphalt that was laid before Rideau Street reopened. The city couldn’t risk trying to pull the van out, since the ground wasn’t stable enough for the heavy crane that would be needed to remove it.
Kiwan said he hasn’t heard anything from the city since the sinkhole swallowed the van. He’s still contemplating a claim for losses that insurance won’t cover.
“I should do that,” he said. “I think we should do that.”