Manitoba

Winnipeg police HQ contractor sues city for $7.9M, denies responsibility for problems with building

The contractor that built the downtown Winnipeg police headquarters is denying allegations its work on the construction of the multimillion-dollar project resulted in a number of deficiencies.

Caspian counterclaim says project 'delayed by the fault or negligence of the City, its employees or agents'

Winnipeg police HQ Contractor Caspian Projects Inc. filed a counterclaim against the City of Winnipeg alleging any problems with the building were the city's fault. (CBC)

The contractor that built the downtown Winnipeg police headquarters, and is the subject of a lawsuit launched by the City of Winnipeg last month, is firing back with a multimillion-dollar lawsuit blaming the city and its employees for delays in the project, which it says resulted in additional costs to the company.

In a statement of defence filed Thursday afternoon, Caspian Projects Inc. denied allegations made by the city in a May lawsuit that claimed the contractor's work on the police HQ resulted in a number of deficiencies.

Caspian countered that claim by saying it "exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence at all material times," and argued the city's own contract said Caspian wouldn't be held at fault for any problems with the design.

"Caspian is not responsible for any aspect of the design of the project" and the contract says "the costs associated with any defect in design shall not be borne by Caspian," said the statement of defence.

Last month, the city filed a civil suit against Caspian and engineering firm Adjeleian Allen Rubeli Ltd. — the company that designed the police HQ — alleging more than 40 deficiencies were discovered in the building after police moved into it two years ago.

Those are problems City of Winnipeg CAO Doug McNeil estimated would cost "north of $10 million" to fix.

The city's lawsuit alleged the building lacks adequate fire protection, has improper drainage and has a deteriorating structural slab that wasn't addressed during the three-year construction project.

The police service has ordered an engineering study after officers discovered flaking concrete in the building's parking garage. After some of the concrete was peeled away, rusting metal supports were found. Caspian Projects Inc. says any loss or damage suffered by the city was due to the city's own negligence. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

In its statement of defence, Caspian said any loss or damage suffered by the city was due to the city's own negligence, and that the contract it signed never included the replacement of existing concrete floor slabs or asbestos removal.

Caspian said the police headquarters building was virtually finished in August 2014. The city was prepared to take possession of the building after its inspectors, who did a walk through, identified only a couple of minor deficiencies which were corrected overnight, Capsian said.

But days before that happened heavy rain flooded parts of the building, causing damage and delaying completion of the project. Caspian said the city signed off on the contractor's work in the summer of 2016, which was documented in a report to the city's finance committee.

"The city's consultant engineer completed a final site inspection on June 29, 2016 and certified all identified deficiency work has been completed by the contractor," said the statement of defence. "The … contract is now complete."

City owes damages: counterclaim

Caspian said the city still owes nearly $1.5 million, including interest, for work done on the police HQ, and is asking the court to order an additional $6.4 million in damages.

"Caspian says the city has been unjustly enriched by the work performed, to the deprivation of Caspian, in the absence of any juristic reason for such enrichment, and therefore claims restitution," according to the counterclaim, filed Thursday.

Caspian claims the city is responsible for the project not being completed on time.

"Design and construction of the [Winnipeg Police Service] headquarters was delayed by the fault or negligence of the City, its employees or agents," said the court document.

The counterclaim goes on to detail a long list of alleged failures by the city, alleging it:

  • Failed to hire competent designers.
  • Failed to provide complete designs.
  • Failed to manage progress and properly administer the project.
  • Failed to hire competent project directors.
  • Failed to provide timely and full access to the boiler and chiller systems.

Caspian also claims the city was late with payments.

On Thursday afternoon, the City of Winnipeg stated it had not been served with the court documents, adding that as a matter of practice, the city does not comment on matters before the courts.

Winnipeg police HQ contractor sues city for $7.9M

5 years ago
Duration 0:58
Winnipeg police HQ Contractor Caspian Projects Inc. filed a counterclaim against the City of Winnipeg alleging any problems with the building were the city's fault.

now