Exclusive: BC Place steel contractor increases lawsuit claim by $13m

The lawyer for BC Place stadium's steel contractor told a BC Supreme Court judge this morning that his client, Canam Group, is increasing its lawsuit ...

BC Place

The lawyer for BC Place stadium's steel contractor told a BC Supreme Court judge this morning that his client, Canam Group, is increasing its lawsuit claim to $39 million from $26 million.

Cable installer Freyssinet Canada sued Canam in October 2011 for $6.5 million, which it claimed was owing for installation of roof support cables. Canam responded with a $26.15 million countersuit. The Quebec company had previously told shareholders that it suffered a $25 million cost overrun.

Canam's countersuit blamed France-headquartered Freyssinet for broken or failed equipment and a disagreement over construction methods that ultimately delayed installation of fabric for the new retractable roof.

Canam lawyer Stuart Hankinson told Justice Gregory Bowden that an amended version of the counterclaim would feature a "major revamping," including the new claim for $39 million.

The court also heard that Geobrugg is being added as a third party to the action by Freyssinet.

Freyssinet defendants also include general contractor PCL Constructors Westcoast and BC Pavilion Corp. (PavCo), the Crown corporation that runs the stadium.

Switzerland-based Geobrugg supplied the locked coil cables that dripped grease, causing stains on the roof. PCL and PavCo knew about the problem before the end of 2010. Hankinson's December 19, 2012, court filing estimated the damage at $15 million and stated the insurer was investigating whether to pay for repairs.

"It continues to be an outstanding issue," Hankinson told the court. "It's not part, as we speak, of this action. It may become, depending on developments in the next few months."

Much of this morning's hearing was held behind closed doors over trade secrets contained in an internal Freyssinet 176-page "lessons learned" report. In a January 10 hearing, Hankinson previously stated that the report would be vital for his cross-examination of Freyssinet executives.

Meanwhile, BC Government and Service Employees' Union local 1703 members continue to picket the stadium. They began a strike on January 28 over job security. Their contract expired last May. If continued, the strike could affect the stadium's next event, the Chinese New Year Year of the Snake Expo, scheduled to begin tomorrow.

After a complaint by the NDP, BC's Auditor General is conducting a fact-finding exercise on the costs of the renovation project, which the BC Liberal government says eventually cost $514 million. The overhaul was originally foreseen in January 2008 as a $100 million refurbishment and replacement of the air-supported fabric roof, but grew to be a $365 million project when the budget was announced in January 2009.

BMackin@biv.com

@bobmackin

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