Winnipeg stadium work briefly halted due to unpaid bills
Crews working on completing Winnipeg's new football stadium suspended work for four days last week because they were not being paid.
Stuart Olson Dominion, the general contractor in the Investors Group Field project, took the unusual step of suspending the work in the hopes of getting BBB Stadium Inc. to pay up, according to a letter it sent on Friday to subcontractors and suppliers.
BBB Stadium is a consortium consisting of the City of Winnipeg, the Manitoba government, the Winnipeg Football Club — which owns the Blue Bombers CFL team — and the University of Manitoba, where the stadium is located.
The letter by Rick Graumann, Stuart Olson Dominion's vice-president for Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, referred to "contract payment arrears from BBB Stadium Inc. and the Winnipeg Football Club" that were not rectified.
"As a result, effective immediately, we have suspended until further notice, all work on these project sites as it relates to any outstanding deficiencies, warranty work and extra work under change orders or change directives," Graumann wrote.
"I ask your cooperation in supporting this unusual, but necessary action and hope that this is a step towards prompt settlement."
A second letter from Graumann, dated Tuesday, retracted Friday's letter and lifted the suspension of work. Crews were working at the stadium as of Wednesday.
The stadium consortium was created to oversee construction of the stadium, which has faced cost overruns and construction delays leading up to its grand opening earlier this year.
Officials with the province referred requests for information to the consortium, which did not return calls on Wednesday.
The current chair of BBB Stadium is Andrew Konowalchuk, an associate vice-president at the University of Manitoba with experience in capital planning.
Konowalchuk did not return calls for a response regarding the work stoppage or the alleged shortfalls in funding.
The Winnipeg Football Club also referred requests for details to BBB Stadium, but a spokesperson took issue with the first letter's reference to the club having payment arrears.
"It is totally unacceptable for Stuart Olson to suggest that this is, in any way, the responsibility of the WFC as it is not," the spokesperson told CBC News.
Stuart Olson Dominion says it is meeting with the stadium consortium and the Blue Bombers this week, as well as talking to its lawyers.
With files from the CBC's Sean Kavanagh