City sues construction contractor Caspian, engineering firm over police headquarters

City sues construction contractor Caspian, engineering firm over police headquarters

The City of Winnipeg is suing the construction and engineering firms responsible for building its police headquarters, alleging myriad mistakes in constructing the troubled downtown project.

The city’s statement of claim was filed Wednesday at Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench.

The city alleges it became aware of a number of defects and deficiencies once the $214-million project was completed in 2016.

The statement lists a deteriorated structural slab, dislodged concrete, water leakage, a broken concrete floor, inadequate air flow, insufficient asbestos abatement and a lack of temperature control among the numerous shortcomings the city alleges in the facility, built within the shell of a former Canada Post warehouse on Graham Avenue in downtown Winnipeg.

The statement of claim was filed after the city tried to enter into arbitration with construction contractor Caspian Projects and engineering firm Adjeleian Allen Rubeli, or AAR.

The allegations in the statement of claim have not been proven in court.

Mayor Brian Bowman said last Friday that AAR decided against arbitration. 

He also said at that point, the city couldn’t sue Caspian because it signed a contract that required arbitration.

The procurement and construction of the police headquarters has been the subject of two external audits and remains under RCMP investigation.

Project ballooned in cost

City council approved the purchase and renovation of the building in 2009, with a budget of $130 million. By the time the project was completed in 2016, it cost taxpayers almost $214 million, not including all financing charges.

Design and construction issues with the project, including holding rooms with false ceilings and vehicle ramps with insufficient headroom, were disclosed by city officials during the construction process. Additional problems, including ventilation issues and leaks, were identified by the city after it took possession of the building.

Winnipeg chief administrative officer Doug McNeil wouldn’t disclose last week how much the alleged deficiencies have cost the city to date, or will in the future.

Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) said he has been informed the deficiencies exceed $10 million.

In documents presented to a judge by the RCMP as part of Project Dalton, the 3½-year-old criminal investigation into the police headquarters, the Mounties alleged Caspian president Armik Babakhanians paid a secret commission to former Winnipeg chief administrative officer Phil Sheegl for showing favour to him in the award of a contract to transform the former Canada Post complex into the new home of the Winnipeg Police Service.

No charges have been laid in that investigation and none of the allegations have been proven in court.​

Published at Wed, 16 May 2018 16:38:09 -0400