Report confirms housing co-op contractors owed $1.2M
The report confirms what the unpaid contractors have been saying for months — they're owed money after costs for a provincially-funded renovation project at a public housing co-op spiraled out of control in 2010.
The province released the consultant's review Wednesday of how finances were handled.
The Department of Community Services paid $35,000 for the report from Grant Thornton to explain what happened at the North End United Housing Cooperative last summer.
The companies were hired last year to renovate kitchens, bathrooms, windows and roofs at several co-op properties. The work was completed at the end of the summer in 2010.
"From the outset North End United's working budget exceeded $5 million, although authorized funding was $3.1 million," said the report.
"The review was requested because there was some confusion," said Dan Troke, of the Department of Community Services
The $3.1 million for the project came from the federal government and the provincial Department of Community Services through its Social Housing Assistance Repair Program (SHARP).
In April 2010 a co-ordinator with the department "expressed concerns and requested financial information relating to SHARP funds that had already been spent," according to the report.
"Most of the communication you see is around how things are transpiring, what folks are trying to do and in a project that size really they're just trying to get through various pieces in order to get the project complete," said Troke.
"I just can't comprehend it right now," said Wade MacAulay who's owed more than $100,000.
"No one said anything to me at all, and I was given work and asked to complete my work and everything else and no one said nothing about it," MacAulay told CBC News.
Tim Ambrose, who is also owed more than $100,000, said that was news to him as well.
"It's good to see where the fault lies and it's seems to be in a lack of communication for sure all the way down through the ranks," Ambrose said.
The province said the financial decisions were up to the co-op's board and its project manager. Neither were available to comment Thursday.
But Troke said they're working with the province to find a solution that could include refinancing the co-op mortgages to pay the debts.
"First and foremost there's 131 families, this is their home," Troke said. "So obviously our priority is that these remain affordable and are a going concern for the future."
The co-op board said it would continue to meet with the provincial government to try to find a solution.