Threat of legal action looms over Whistle Bend contract

A Yukon construction company says it may end up having to sue the territorial government to recover money it’s owed for a construction project it was kicked off of a month ago.

A Yukon construction company says it may end up having to sue the territorial government to recover money it’s owed for a construction project it was kicked off of a month ago.

“It will probably become a legal matter where we have to collect our money from them and get paid for the work we’ve done,” Norcope CEO Doug Gonder said.

Gonder said the government owes them about $300,000 for work already delivered.

Norcope won a $900,000-contract last year to build a pumphouse at Whistle Bend’s rain garden to deal with high pond levels and to provide a permanent solution to the subdivision’s storm water management system.

But in early March the government terminated its contract with Norcope claiming delays and deficiencies.

The work was supposed to be done by December 2016 but the government gave Norcope an extension until Feb. 28, said Aisha Montgomery, a spokesperson for the Department of Community Services.

But the company still wasn’t done by that time and the project engineer found deficiencies in the work that had been completed, Montgomery said.

Gonder said delays in the tender process compounded with the competition date forced his crew to work in subzero temperatures.

“They continued to build the job knowing the specifications could not be met,” Gonder said.

He denies his company is responsible for any deficiencies, but he admits there are “seasonal deficiencies,” which are usually fixed come spring.

But Gonder said the case is yet another example of the government failing to provide companies with important information.

“They built a well house that had settlement issues just like the airport, and just like the airport apron issue, we postponed doing any work until we were approved.”

Norcope and the government are embroiled in a multi-million dollar lawsuit over construction of airport apron panels in 2015.

The government claims Norcope botched the job while Norcope insists the government didn’t provide relevant geotechnical information and told them to keep working when they raised concerns.

“That job (the rain garden) hadn’t even started and there was already a $100,000 change order given within the first few weeks of construction due to design issues,” Gonder said.

As it stands the work is 95 per cent complete, he said.

“I’ve never heard of where it’d be in anybody’s best interest to not let the contractor finish the job,” he said. “It would be ridiculous to bring in somebody else.”

What’s more, he said, is that the final completion date was set for April 28.

The goverment confirmed it terminated Norcope’s Whistle Bend contract on March 2.

It’s not the first time Norcope and the government have butted heads over constructions projects. In 2013 the two sides reached an out-of-court settlement over a $15.9 million contract in Whistle Bend.

For now work continues on the project. The government broke down parts of the contract and gave those to Norcope’s subcontractors engaged in the initial construction, and the mechanical and electrical services for the pumphouse.

“We are also currently in the process of evaluating procurement options to engage a civil construction contractor to complete the rest of the work,” Montgomery said.

“We remain cautiously optimistic that although we are working through these challenges, the project will be completed soon, and at little or no additional cost.”

Gonder said there is also no mediation process available, forcing them to go to court anytime they disagree with the government.

He said he contacted Community Services Minister John Streicker and Premier Sandy Silver.

“They agreed with me somebody should be brought in the middle to investigate what the real reason is to terminate the contract,” Gonder said. “We were never given that opportunity.”

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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