New Brunswick

Partner in Saint John drinking water project sues others

One of the original partners in Saint John's Safe Clean Drinking Water project has launched a suit against the others.

Wood Canada alleges breach of contract, negligence

One of the original partners in the public-private partnership building Saint John's water treatment system is now suing the others, alleging breach of contract and negligence. (CBC)

One of the original partners in Saint John's Safe Clean Drinking Water project has launched a suit against the others.

Wood Canada Ltd., formerly Amec Foster Wheeler, is alleging the other partners breached the project's design agreement, acted in bad faith and were negligent.

It claims it is owed more than $2 million. 

The $216 million public private partnership saw a consortium of private companies under the umbrella Port City Water Partners, design, finance and build the city's water treatment system.

The partnership will operate the system for the next 30 years.

Its original members included Spain's Acciona Aqua, Brookfield Financial Securities, and North America Construction Ltd.

In its statement of claim, Wood Canada says it helped prepare and submit the original proposal for the project and was to be lead designer.

But after Port City Water Partners won the bid, Wood Canada found itself relegated to the role of sub-consultant, along with other design companies. 

Alleges delays in information

The company alleges design information it needed to do its job was expected on March 17, 2016, but "arrived in piecemeal fashion" over a 17-month period ending in March 2018. The information also arrived out of sequence, the company says.

"As a result," says the statement of claim, "it was impossible for Wood to complete its work under the Design Agreement in the manner contemplated."

Wood Canada, which is based in Calgary and Toronto, alleges the delays added to its costs and expenses.  

The company also says it was forced to make a number of "revisions, additions and changes to the scope of the work," for which it was not compensated.

Allegations not proven

Wood Canada's claims have not been tested in court.

The company is represented by Saint John lawyer Clarence Bennett, who could not be reached for comment Monday.

Mayor Don Darling did not respond to a request for comment. The City of Saint John speaks for Port City Water Partners. 

A spokesperson for the city said the municipality only learned of the claim Monday and does not have any further information.

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