City goes after water treatment plant engineers

Tyler Clarke
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The long and winding road that accompanied water treatment plant upgrades is nearing its end, with the city filing a statement of claim against its former engineers.

The city’s water treatment plant underwent about $24 million in upgrades since Associated Engineering (Sask.) Ltd. took on the project in late 2007. 

Unable to divulge much at this point, Associated Engineering (Sask.) Ltd. representative Bert Munro said that the company is disappointed that it’s come to legal action.

“But, it is what it is, and we are at a point where we don’t agree,” the company’s vice president of Saskatchewan and Manitoba operations concluded.

The company filed its statement of defence with the Prince Albert Court of Queen’s Bench on July 10.

Associated Engineering Ltd. was commissioned in late 2007 to oversee the water treatment plant’s $24-million refurbishment -- a job that includes selecting the contractor, designing and managing the project.

In July 2012, the city removed the main contractor, B.C.-based Wildstone Construction and Engineering Ltd., from the property.

The city has settled with Wildstone Construction and Engineering Ltd. and its bonding company out of court, Mayor Greg Dionne said on Tuesday.

All other sub-contractors have been paid for and dealt with, Dionne said, noting that Associated Engineering Ltd. is the last piece of the puzzle to take care of.

Looking at the upcoming legal process, Dionne said that the city would be open to “acceptable negotiations.”

On top of a settlement, the city will be seeking the cost of legal action from the defendant, Dionne said.

If the city is successful in this endeavour, Dionne said that taxpayers will be spared added expense when it comes to the years of delays that have followed the water treatment plant’s refurbishment.

At this point, he said that the water treatment plant’s refurbishments are for all intents and purposes done, with a few “minor” corrections from the construction yet to take place.

“At the end of the day, we have a functional, up-to-date water treatment plant that’s supplying an excellent quality of water to our residents,” he said.

That’s about all that can be said about the matter while it stands before the courts, the city’s legal counsel Mitch Holash wrote in a press release.

Any further comment will be deferred until there are further developments to report, he noted.

The next step will see the city and Associated Engineering Ltd. return to negotiations through a process of mandatory mediation.

Although both sides are declining further comment at this point, the statements of claim and defence outline both sides of the impending legal action.

It is what it is, and we are at a point where we don’t agree. Bert Munro


Statement of Claim

Filed on Sept. 17, 2013, the City of Prince Albert’s statement of claim against Associated Engineering (Sask.) Ltd. makes the following assertions.

• The water treatment plant construction and operational upgrades did not meet the professional standards required of it under the defendant’s agreement with the city.  The city sustained “significant additional cost” as a result of required material changes mid-project. There were also operational safety issues.

• The defendant-recommended contractor did not have “sufficient experience capacity, resources and/or competency to effectively perform the obligations of a general contractor for the upgrade project.” Attached to this is the allegation that the defendant “failed to effectively manage the contractor’s non-compliance with its obligations.”

• There was an absence of proper construction schedule, resulting in irreconcilable issues between the city and contractor and whether the contractor was entitled to additional remuneration for work outside of the specified contract schedule.


Statement of Defence

Filed on July 10, 2014, Associated Engineering (Sask) Ltd.’s statement of defence against the City of Prince Albert’s statement of claim makes the following assertions.

• Associated Engineering Ltd. worked closely with Wildstone Construction and Engineering Ltd. to ensure things were done properly. This included numerous onsite meetings and inspections.

• The city’s decision to remove Wildstone Construction and Engineering Ltd. from the site was done without consultation with Associated Engineering Ltd.

• Associated Engineering Ltd. did not recommend Wildstone Construction and Engineering Ltd., nor did it vouch for its experience, capacity, resources or competency to effectively perform the obligations of a general contractor for the upgrade project.

• The City of Prince Albert provided direction directly to Wildstone Construction and Engineering Ltd throughout the construction process without knowledge or approval of Associated Engineering Ltd.

Organizations: Associated Engineering, Wildstone Construction and Engineering, Prince Albert Court

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Prince Albert

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