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City sues Dowland

The City of Whitehorse is suing bankrupt contractor Dowland Contracting and an insurance company for $500,000.

The City of Whitehorse is suing bankrupt contractor Dowland Contracting and an insurance company for $500,000.

The lawsuit is over delays in replacing the Selkirk pump station, part of the city’s water infrastructure.

According to court documents, Dowland was hired as the general contractor in September 2011. The $5 million project was supposed to be done by June 2013.

In the end it wasn’t finished until December 2014, after the project had been taken over by Intact Insurance.

Once the work originally got started “there were immediate and ongoing problems with Dowland’s performance of its obligations under the contract including deficient and defective work and a failure to complete the work in a timely manner,” the lawsuit says.

No specific details are included in the document and no statement of defence has been filed.

By February 2013, “as a result of Dowland’s failure to pay its subcontractors and suppliers,” the city sent a default notice to Dowland and Intact.

In April of that year Dowland notified the city it no longer had the capacity to complete the project, documents say.

Dowland went into receivership in May 2013. This had a big impact in the Yukon, as Dowland was responsible for building both the Dawson and Watson Lake hospitals.

Both those projects were defaulted on, though they were eventually completed when Intact took them over.

Dowland defaulted on jobs across the country, including a $36-million hospital renovation in Iqaluit, and a massive hydroelectric project in Terrace, B.C.

The city is asking the court to award it half a million dollars as payment for the way Dowland acted and the fact that the insurance company did not act promptly to complete the project.

Whitehorse city engineer Wayne Tuck said the city paid a consultant to manage the project and had more costs when the timeline was blown. They also had additional costs in staff time and legal fees after Dowland shut down, he said.

The city also had to do some work that wasn’t covered by Intact, Tuck said. That includes things like protecting the structure from freezing when the delay stretched over winter, he said.

The old pump house station was built in 1950 near the fish hatchery.

“It a nutshell, the station was old and need to be upgraded,” Tuck said. “Being 60 years old we needed a bigger space and more efficient pumps to take us another 50/60 years.”

The new station is up and running. The old station will eventually be repurposed Tuck said, but no decisions have been made yet.