Fight over Whistle Bend continues

A contract dispute over construction of the Whistle Bend subdivision is going back to court. Norcope Enterprises is suing the Yukon government over $2 million worth of work on the new subdivision.

A contract dispute over construction of the Whistle Bend subdivision is going back to court.

Norcope Enterprises is suing the Yukon government over $2 million worth of work on the new subdivision that the government gave to a rival company.

In court filings, Norcope claims the Yukon government, which is the developer of the subdivision, breached its contract when it awarded extra work to Sidhu Trucking.

Norcope had a $15.9-million contract to install sewer and utility infrastructure in the subdivision.

The government is countersuing Norcope for defective work and construction delays.

In court filings, the government said Norcope “failed to remediate numerous defects” to the water lines it installed.

In one case, the government claims that Norcope laid down segments of a water utility pipeline well outside the “designated corridor” and refused or neglected to correct the mistake.

It goes on to accuse the company of failing to do a proper video inspection of the water mains, forcing the government to hire an outside contractor to do the work. When the mains were inspected, problems with the underground infrastructure were uncovered.

The cost to fix these problems will be “substantial,” government court filings state, and will require excavating and redoing finished roads and concrete curbs.

Both sides accuse the other of negotiating in bad faith and breaching their respective contracts.

Norcope accuses the government of making “false” and “malicious” statements to its bonding company in an attempt to prevent it from bidding on contracts that required a bond, while the government says Norcope has repeatedly berated and denigrated government staff in numerous and frequent correspondence to the premier, the minister and through statements in the media.

The case has been ongoing since the summer of 2011.

It all started when the government revised plans for the subdivision in the midst of construction. The new plan required 267,000 cubic metres of dirt to be moved to raise lot levels so the area would drain correctly.

Norcope assumed the work fell within the scope of its contract, and acquired additional equipment to do the job.

Instead, the territory awarded the work to Sidhu Trucking, which left Norcope on the hook for the new equipment.

Norcope claims the Yukon government refused to negotiate a price for that work in good faith, while the government says that Norcope wanted too much money and time to do the extra work.

In June 2011 Norcope staged a protest, parking several pieces of heavy equipment around the Yukon legislature.

The company also filed an injunction to try to stop Sidhu Trucking from completing the work, and brought a lawsuit against the Yukon government.

By August the court case was put on hold while both sides tried to work out a settlement.

In the meantime, construction on Whistle Bend continued and the first lots were released on schedule last fall.

Around the same time, talks broke down and Norcope renewed it’s lawsuit filing a revised statement of claim in October 2012.

The government filed its statement of defence in December along with a countersuit.

The government argues that Norcope’s lawsuit should be thrown out and that the company should be forced to pay for the territory’s legal costs and damages for the extra security required for the protest, construction delays and infrastructure repairs.

Norcope is seeking damages for loss of reputation and goodwill.

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com