Yukon News

Norcope countersues government over airport apron saga

Pierre Chauvin Thursday April 13, 2017

Mike Thomas/Yukon News


An Air North flight sits on the apron at the Whitehorse airport.

Norcope Enterprises Ltd. is countersuing the Yukon government over the $3.7-million airport apron project.

The company claims the government was negligent when it failed to share relevant geotechnical information it needed to perform the work and wants to be compensated.

The government sued Norcope back in February claiming Norcope’s work was deficient and that it defaulted on its obligations under the apron contract.

In a statement of defence filed March 20 in Yukon Supreme Court, Norcope denies the allegations and claims the government failed to provide “geotechnical information” it had.

The government contracted Norcope in 2014 to replace 250 apron panels — the apron is where planes park and unload passengers — at Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport.

In its original lawsuit the government said it notified Norcope of problems with the work as early as June 2014, a month after the work started.

In July 2015 the government said it had identified “major deficiencies” with the work done and asked Norcope to fix them.

Norcope, the government said, claimed there were no deficiencies and that it had no obligation to redo the work.

For Norcope, the government breached its duty of care it owes to contractors when it comes to providing accurate tender, design and specification documents that they can rely on.

“The government was negligent in making the representations which were false, inaccurate and misleading,” the countersuit reads.

Norcope is claiming an unspecified amount of both general and special damages.

The government in turn is seeking to be reimbursed the entire cost of the contract.

Back in 2015 Norcope CEO Doug Gonder told the News the government had ordered the panels to be built without proper support underneath resulting in the concrete sinking as soon as it was poured.

“They just ignored everything and kept building. It’s a real shame because this is a high-profile job that should have been delivered properly,” he said at the time.

Instead, he said, “we’ve got a failed project.”

There will be a lot for the Yukon Supreme Court to sort through, since neither party can’t even agree what the cost of the contract was.

The government claims the contract was worth $3.7 million, while Norcope contends it was $3.5 million.

In its statement of defence against the YG lawsuit, Norcope argues the allegations aren’t detailed enough for the company to answer them.

But in case it is found to have been responsible for loss or damages to the government, the company said in its statement of defence the whole thing is the government’s fault.

The apron panel saga made it all the way to the Yukon legislative assembly when during question period in December 2015 the Yukon Party government blamed Norcope for the apron issues and said the company would be responsible for replacing the panels.

Gonder at the time claimed that a letter the government sent him waived his company’s liability.

A spokesperson for the Department of Highways and Public Works previously told the News the work was completed during the summer of 2014. The majority of the project was paid for by the federal government, with the Yukon government pitching in about $525,000.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


JuneBug wrote:
12:09pm Friday April 28, 2017

It is shameful that this contractor continuously ends up embroiled in legal battles with the government. It is a clear indicator of Norcope’s inability to follow a design correctly and to deliver a well managed, timely project. I’d imagine it must be frustrating for government to have to deal with this group time and time again, as they often bid lowest for the jobs and deliver poor quality products. Definitely time to revamp the contract procurement system from lowest bidder to looking at quality as a consideration.

Philip wrote:
9:57pm Wednesday April 26, 2017

Seems odd ytg pays the contractor in full, gives the contractor a disclaimer warrany yet when the project fails due to thawed perma frost conditions they cover up the truth why it has failed.
It be hard to point the finger to anyone but the owner for not investigating the soil conditions before they build.Seems failure after failure leads YTG into courts over the same cut corner elements job after job. I think the local contractor should be complimented for being one of the only yukon companies to take this job on.

There has to be wrote:
3:25pm Sunday April 23, 2017

better vetting of local work down.  Companies that do not complete work properly should be taken off the list of bidders in future projects.

I think both wrote:
12:26pm Saturday April 22, 2017

are at fault on this one. Contractor cutting corners that the Yukon did know how to handle.

Bob the builder wrote:
9:41am Friday April 21, 2017

Having worked on major government contracts across Canada, including all three territories something about this story strikes me as tad odd. Typically the government will hire a third party consultant to oversee and verify quality of the work, including geotechnical which seems to be the issue in this case. This party - more than the contractor performing the work, or the government paying for the work is accountable. If they identified issues during the work they have the authority to stop the work, but also there would be a paper trail, which shoudl make this a pretty clear cut case if Norcope continued to perform the work in error knowingly.

Unfortunately in my experience,  there “northern” contracts are often staffed by a consultants least experienced staff due to unwillingness of more experienced staff to be away from family or as a cost cutting measure

Hanimal wrote:
1:27pm Tuesday April 18, 2017

Norcope should actually be named Nohope as in, will they do a good job, completed on time and on budget. YG should just be called idiots as they just keep on making the same mistakes over and over and over…........

ralpH wrote:
7:57am Tuesday April 18, 2017

This incompetencey runs rampant in the government. Mid level burecrates in over there heads handling these contracts. Add to it the political pressure because the contractors contribute to the campaigns of those in office. So the policy is look the other way and hope all goes away. More to come folks some have already hit the news. Criminal if you ask me.

H. Nyland wrote:
12:21pm Monday April 17, 2017

Like father, like son.

There is no... wrote:
1:44pm Sunday April 16, 2017

...eligible contractors list as such.  Low bid gets it, that’s the system successive governing parties has put into place.  Trust me, there are lots of contractors that YG workers would love be to see blacklisted, but, as with everything else here, the contractor goes complying to the politicians, and the give employees get told to give this guy the contract.  Everything Norcope touches turns a particular shade of brown…...

ProScience Greenie wrote:
8:54am Sunday April 16, 2017

It is entirely possible that both the contractor and the government are at fault for this screw up. Hope the courts dig deep and get to the bottom of it and also make strong recommendations to ensure we see less of these messes in the future from contractors, consultants and government.

Mr M wrote:
8:29am Sunday April 16, 2017

I agree with the other posts. It isn’t the first time this contractor has screwed up and it is always someone else’s fault. Own up to what you have done wrong and quit trying to screw the taxpayers. I also say NO to the gravel pit he wants to put in across from Mt Sima rd. That area should be a designated Park so as not to wreck the area of Miles Canyon. Contractors are never wrong and when they are they just whine and b—-h about it and the Government gives in and the taxpayer loses.

Who owes Norcope wrote:
2:36pm Saturday April 15, 2017

Tat might tell Yukoners what kind of people they are.

WestofBelfast wrote:
1:31pm Saturday April 15, 2017

I’m with the other posters on this one.  This would be like owning your own business and continually hiring the same person over and over again after having problems with them.  Isn’t the definition of insanity to do the same thing repeatedly and to expect different results?  The difference is that if you owned your own business you’d be worrying about your own money and not about spending taxpayers’ money.  Pull Norcope off the eligible contractor list once and for all and YG…quit wasting our money on lawyers!

Willard wrote:
7:26pm Thursday April 13, 2017

  Keep this guy outside of the city limits to reduce the taxpayers legal liability!

Curios Yukoner wrote:
3:56pm Thursday April 13, 2017

Almost every YG contract this contractor is awarded ends up in a dispute of some form or another. I for one am having a hard time believing this is YG’s fault, given he did not use the forming system that was required to complete the work. He claimed they could provide a satisfactory product without the specified system…....thereby in my opinion accepting responsibility for the end product.
Will be no surprise to me if his approach to this is to complicate the matter to the maximum with eroneous info, drag it out for years and finally frustrate Govt into settling as they did with Whistle Bend….......and again taxpayers take the hit.
When will YG stop awarding contracts to this contractor????

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