Norcope countersues government over airport apron saga

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.

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 pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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