Mount Pearl contractor suing City of St. John’s for $1.2M

Dispute centres on water treatment plant work

Daniel MacEachern
Published on November 2, 2013
The ozonation room is one of the main control centres at the City of St. John’s water treatment plant at Bay Bulls Big Pond. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

A Mount Pearl contractor is suing the City of St. John’s for $1.2 million over work done at a water treatment plant.

According to a statement of claim filed Oct. 8 with Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court, Anchorage Contracting is owed $1.2 million on a $9.6 million contract for electrical service and upgrade of the main building at the Bay Bulls Big Pond water treatment facility.

Darren Moss, president and owner of the Moss Group of Cos., which includes general contractor Anchorage, said the $1.2 million (also the amount of a mechanic’s lien placed on the project) represents payment the city is withholding because of a dispute over roofing work done at the facility. Anchorage subcontracted the roofing work on the building to Flynn Canada. A portion of the roofing blew off in the fall of 2011, and was replaced, paid for by Anchorage’s insurance providers, but blew off again in the fall of last year. Moss said the city’s engineering specifications are to blame.

“We determined that the engineers on the job who designed the roof, it wasn’t engineered properly,” he said. “We’re saying we’re not putting it back that way again. It’ll blow off again.”

Anchorage general manager Kirk Saunders said the roof work was approved by an inspection before the roof blew off, and so Anchorage paid Flynn for its portion of the job; the $1.2 million being withheld by the city represents money that’s supposed to go to other contractors, he said. Also, the city wants the entire roof replaced, instead of just the section that blew off — the same section each time.

“The whole issue for the dispute arose when the city of St. John’s insisted that Anchorage not only repair the blow-off area, but now they want the complete building roof redone,” he said. “Because the roof, the major portion now that the city is insisting be replaced never failed — it never failed, it never leaked, so it’s not covered under insurance. And because it has never leaked, it has never failed, our subcontractors, Flynn, who carried out the work, are insisting the roof is still good. So that’s the whole issue of the dispute right now. Anchorage, we’re somewhat stuck in the middle between the roofer and the city, but of course we’re the general contractor and we’re the ones who take on the risk.”

The $1.2 million belongs to everyone else involved in the contract, said Saunders.

“That belongs to the mechanical contractor, that belongs to the electrical contractor, the company that done the painting, the company that done the masonry, the company that done the asphalt,” he said. “So what the city is holding is that last 10 per cent that was allocated for everyone, and that is what’s not fair.”

The city has put out a new tender for the roof replacement work.

Another contractor, G.J. Cahill, has also placed a lien on the water treatment facility, for $2.5 million, but declined to comment on the nature of the lien. Spokeswoman Lisa Anthony said client confidentiality prevents the company from speaking on ongoing work matters.

Deputy mayor Ron Ellsworth — also the chairman for the city’s regional water and waste-water services committees — declined to say much about the lawsuit, with the matter currently before the courts.

“This being a legal issue, I’m not able to comment on the issue itself directly,” he said. “Obviously we don’t want to jeopardize any such process that takes place. … For our part, the roof is no different than any other structure that’s been done (around the province) as I understand it. They’ve put a lien on the project itself. It’s been going on two years. I’m sure they’re frustrated also.”

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel