Sudbury·Audio

Interpaving now working on Greater Sudbury road construction as subcontractor

A Sudbury construction company that's barred from bidding on municipal contracts is now working as a subcontractor on a city job.

Interpaving Limited can still operate as a subcontractor because city ban does not apply to subcontract work

The Ministry of Labour did 18 inspections of Interpaving job sites in northern Ontario in 2014. It issued 23 orders, almost all of them pertaining to the safety of construction sites. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

A Sudbury construction company that's barred from bidding on municipal contracts is now working as a subcontractor for the city.

Interpaving Limited has been hired by Garson Pipe to work on a portion of Skead Road leading up to Sudbury's airport.

A city spokesperson says the decision to ban Interpaving from municipal contracts doesn't prevent the company from working as a subcontractor.

Statement from City of Greater Sudbury

"Under the Purchasing By-law, the City has the authority to manage its relationships with contractors. Contractors that submit bids on City road/water/sewer contracts are ultimately responsible for the completion of projects in accordance with the terms of the specific contract and are permitted to retain subcontractors. As such, Interpaving Limited was banned specifically from submitting bids to the City under Section 37 of the Purchasing By-law. This section is specific to the disqualification of bidders and suppliers and does not apply to subcontracting. No further restrictions have been applied to Interpaving Limited."

The ban came down after a 58-year-old pedestrian was killed at one of Interpaving's construction sites last year.

The province's Ministry of Labour is still investigating. It issued seven orders to Interpaving after the fatality.

The ministry says Interpaving complied — but the company appealed the orders to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

One work order — to develop a traffic control plan for pedestrian safety — was cancelled after an agreement was reached between the ministry and Interpaving.

Interpaving Limited has been hired as a subcontractor to fix Skead Road. (Erik White/CBC )

This fall, Interpaving will appeal to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to have the six other work orders rescinded.

No criminal charges have been laid.

The president of the Ontario General Contractor Association, says the city shouldn't punish Interpaving unless the company has been found guilty of something. 

"It's very heavy handed and I don't think it would ever stand the test of law, and they could be opening themselves up," Clive Thurston told CBC News.

"Mainly because it's the courts who determine guilt or innocence, not a municipality. And if they set themselves up as judge, jury and executioner, they're just asking for trouble. It's why we have the Ministry of Labour. It's why we have the courts. It's why we have a system. It's why we have investigations to find out what happened, who's at fault."

A woman using a walker was struck and killed by construction equipment on Elgin Street in Sudbury last October. The construction site was being run by Interpaving. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

Interpaving exploring 'all other options'

As reported in a previous CBC News story, the city did not specify why it no longer will allow Interpaving to to bid on municipal work.

"The City has decided to remove Interpaving's ability to submit bids on City projects, effective immediately," the statement read. "This is a legal matter, and we cannot provide further comment."

The company stated in a release at the time that it hoped to "reach a reasonable resolution [with the city]. However, if necessary, Interpaving will explore all other options available."

Interpaving has been a major workhorse for Greater Sudbury, regularly doing millions of dollars worth of repaving and other construction work for the city. 

Interpaving was awarded $9 million worth of city contracts in 2015.

The Sudbury-based company also does a lot of work for the province, including a $10 million repaving job on Highway 144, which was awarded days after the fatal accident on Elgin last summer. 

This is not the first time the ministry has been called to an Interpaving job site.

In the last two years, it has issued 23 orders to the company for violations at construction sites in northern Ontario —  almost all of them related to the safety of workers and the public.

Meanwhile, the family of Cecile Paquette, the woman killed at one of Interpaving's construction sites last September, is suing the city, Interpaving and the man who was operating the piece of equipment that killed her.

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