Sudbury

Interpaving has history of public safety problems on job sites

​​The company at the centre of a investigation into a construction site death in downtown Sudbury last week is no stranger to safety problems and complaints from the public.

Ministry of Labour issued 23 orders to company for northern Ontario jobs in last year, most related to safety.

Interpaving crews working at the corner of Ste. Anne and Elgin Street in downtown Sudbury. (Erik White/CBC )

​The company at the centre of a investigation into a construction site death in downtown Sudbury last week is no stranger to safety problems and complaints from the public. 

The Elgin Street work site is one of several in the last year where Interpaving Limited has been told to do a better job protecting pedestrians and passing cars.

The Ministry of Labour did 18 inspections of Interpaving job sites in northern Ontario in the last year and issued 23 orders, almost all of them pertaining to the safety of construction sites. 

They include:

  • October 15, 2014: six orders issued at Timmins Square asphalt project, including the installation of fencing "between project and pedestrian walkways for public protection" and correcting "inadequate traffic control."
  • October 21, 2014: two orders issued following a complaint about work on Highway 17 near Verner, including "requirement for traffic protection plan."
  • June 19, 2015: Inspection of work on Algonquin Boulevard in Timmins leads to three orders,  including "adequate signage to protect workers" and the writing of a "traffic protection plan."
  • July 16, 2015: Three orders issued for resurfacing job at Junction Road and Main Street in Smooth Rock Falls. Inspectors find "inadequate traffic control measures provided to workers."
Interpaving has erected more fencing around its Elgin Street job site since the the fatal accident last week, something it's been ordered to do at several other construction sites around the northeast in the last year. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC )

Interpaving was founded in 1972 in Sudbury and has several related businesses, including Interconcrete and ARGdevco, the development wing that's behind the Silver Hills commercial big box complex in New Sudbury, as well as a proposed residential subdivision next door and real estate projects in Timmins and North Bay.

Interpaving does work all over the province, as well as for the province. Two days after the woman was crushed on Elgin Street, it was announced that the company has won a $10 million contract to re-pave Highway 144 between Onaping and Cartier.

Interpaving is also one of the go-to contractors for the City of Greater Sudbury. Just this year, it has been awarded about $9 million dollars in city contracts. 

Here's how the city's interim chief administrative officer Kevin Fowke described the company earlier this week:

"They've been a long-standing contractor for the city. I wouldn't say that we've had safety issues with them before."

But there is a long history of complaints from the public about Interpaving's work, many of them dealing with safety, including a west end neighbourhood showered with stones last year during blasting on Big Nickel Road.

In 2013, Southview Drive resident Deborah Knuff called the city several times to complain about the work Interpaving was doing on her street, including blocking her driveway and leaving a large hole without barriers to stop cars or pedestrians from falling in.

​"Clearly the company has a history of this, because the concerns have been reported to the city and I know they log the calls and I know they respond, because they responded when I called," said Knuff.

There have also been complaints about the quality of the work Interpaving does. This spring, city councillor Fern Cormier spoke out about a paving job on John Street in his ward that had to be re-done.

"It says a heck of a lot about the quality of the work. And that same contractor is doing a lot of work for the city. And we have heard this for years," he said at a city council meeting.

​Interpaving declined to comment for this story, citing the ongoing investigation by the Ministry of Labour, as well as its own internal investigation. A letter sent to CBC does say that Interpaving takes health and safety on its work sites "very seriously."

After a four-year ban following the crushing death of a woman on one of its construction sites, Interpaving can once again bid on Sudbury city contracts. (Erik White/CBC )

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