Manitoba

Rainstorm that delayed police HQ completion wrought $8.3M worth of damages

The 2014 rainstorm that critically impaired Winnipeg's new police headquarters caused $8.3 million worth of losses and damages, according court documents filed as part of a city lawsuit against its insurers.

City lawsuit against police-HQ insurers seeks payment of additional claims

An August 2014 rainstorm severely damaged the new Winnipeg police headquarters. Court documents place the total cost of the damages and losses at $8.3 million. (CBC)

The 2014 rainstorm that critically impaired Winnipeg's new police headquarters caused $8.3 million worth of losses and damages, according court documents filed as part of a city lawsuit against its insurers.

On Aug. 21, 2014, a severe downpour flooded the underground parking levels of the Winnipeg Police Service's new downtown headquarters, which was nearing completion at the time.

The flood damaged the high-voltage electrical vault that served both the new police headquarters and the adjoining office tower that faces on to Graham Avenue, causing what the city described as the critical failure of electrical and mechanical systems.

This further delayed the opening of the project, which was already over budget and behind schedule. It wound up opening three years late, in June 2016, at a total cost of $214 million, which was $79 million above the project cost approved by city council in 2009.

In December 2014, city council voted to set aside $2 million in an insurance reserve to pay for some of the repairs following the rainstorm.

According to a statement of claim filed by the city against two police-HQ insurers, the rainstorm damages and losses were actually four times higher.

The claim, filed by the city on Tuesday, pegs the cost of the rainstorm at $6.1 million in remediation costs, $1.2 million in costs related to the construction and $931,000 worth of professional fees.

City seeking $1.7 million

In the suit, the city claims two insurance companies, RSA and Northbridge, have paid out $6.6 million worth of claims but has not paid out the remaining $1.7 million.

The city also claims the insurance companies "negligently failed to properly assess and approve the city's submitted claims."

No statements of defence have been filed and the claims have not been proven in court.

An RSA spokesman declined to comment on the legal action.

"We are currently working with the insured as part of our claims management process," the company said in a statement.

Northbridge was not immediately available for comment.

On Dec. 1, city council's finance committee was told all water-damage remediation work at the police headquarters is complete and the insurers have made a "partial advancement" on the city's claim.

"A separate financial report will be submitted once the headquarters water event of Aug. 21, 2014 insurance claim has been finalized with the insurance company," reads a report jointly authored by the Winnipeg Police Service and planning, property and development department.

Troubled headquarters

The Winnipeg police headquarters was the subject of two external city audits that questioned the manner in which the former Canada Post complex was purchased and concluded the project itself was mismanaged severely.

The project has also been under RCMP investigation for the past two years. The Mounties are looking into allegations of fraud and forgery pertaining to the construction of the building.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bartley Kives

Reporter, CBC Manitoba

Reporter Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba. His work has also appeared in publications such as the Guardian and Explore magazine.

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