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Construction company disputing Old Crow Wellness Centre contract

The company that filed a competitive bid says the awarded contract lacks financial accountability
The Old Crow health centre, constructed in the 1970s, is slated for a rebuild. (Submitted/Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation)

A construction company that filed a competitive bid for the Old Crow Wellness Centre is disputing the awarded contract.

The Yukon government announced that KetzaTSL Construction Ltd. had been awarded a $44.9-million contract for the project in a press release issued on March 11.

Wildstone Construction Group, who bid a lower price of $38.2 million, is questioning the government’s decision to award the higher application.

In a statement issued to the News, the construction company highlighted that the government’s pre-tender estimate for the job was $38 million. It continues to allege that the Yukon government’s freight allowance is inadequate for the project and will result in an additional $2 million in costs.

“As such, this project is likely closer to $10 million over the Yukon government’s established budget,” the company says.

“This is a gross misappropriation of public funds and shows a lack of financial accountability.”

Wildstone is accusing the Yukon government of rushing the tender decision prior to the territorial election, which was called the following day on March 12.

“When project tenders come in over budget, the award process is seldom rushed through the procurement process as the additional capital needs to be allocated and approved,” the company says, adding that this process usually takes “several months.”

Wildstone alleges that staff with the Department of Highways and Public Works explained during a debrief with the company that they were urged to make a quick decision on the project.

In an email to the News, department spokesperson Oshea Jephson said that Wildstone’s concerns misconstrue the situation.

The procurement was value-driven, meaning that KetzaTSL was chosen for its technical criteria more than its price, he said.

“Technical points for this project were scored heavily due to the remote location, challenging terrain, site conditions, and project timelines,” Jephson said.

First Nation participation, northern experience and scheduling were also taken into account.

“In this case, additional funding was provided to ensure the project could continue moving forward on schedule as work is set to begin this summer,” he said.

The Yukon government is set to debrief with Wildstone now that a bid challenge has been issued. A hearing may be called, at the discretion of a Bid Challenge Committee Chair.

“The Bid Challenge Process was designed to improve the procurement process, but does not stop a contract award,” Jephson said.

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at