(Photo: The GRC pool under repair in May 2015.)
A former Goulbourn councillor says an out-of-court settlement made a decade ago means we may never know who’s really responsible for problems with the GRC pool.
“Settling out of court provides a form of cover from scrutiny, does it not, for whoever screwed this up and/or maybe supplied defective materials, design, supervision, or duty of care teamwork and/or workmanship?” wrote Mike Bryan in an email to StittsvilleCentral.ca.
Councillor Shad Qadri had asked the city’s legal staff to look at legal options to recoup some of the $4-million in repairs the Goulbourn Rec Centre pool. It was shut down for 18 months from 2013-2015 after workers found structural problems due to mould, leaks and rust in the structure.
At Tuesday’s Finance and Economic Development Committee at City Hall, city lawyers tabled a report concluding that there is “no reasonable likelihood of recovering all or a portion of the cost of the remediation works required”.
That’s in part due to a 2006 out-of-court settlement between the City and parties involved in the design and construction of the facility. The City’s statement of claim from the case listed a litany of alleged deficiencies including premature deterioration of the pool roof and water problems, with estimated repair costs at $1-million. (You can read the full statement of claim below.)
The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, and the allegations were never proven. As part of the settlement, the City agreed not to pursue further litigation against the same parties.
Bryan was a councillor in the former Goulbourn Township before it was amalgamated into the City of Ottawa.
“Given the rigour with which the last independent Goulbourn Council, in office 1997-2000, pursued its screening, interviewing and finally selection of an architect for this project, even going so far as to hire a local architect to keep an eye on the project and act as a liaison between the construction job and the architect, Henry Wong, how on earth did the ‘errors’ which were made happen. I think we need answers to these questions,” said Bryan.
“Sad that a gag order maybe also shields the city from taxpayer questions concerning just what percentage of the costs of all this we the taxpayers actually recover,” he said.
“The amount sought by the City in 2006 was reflective of the cost of the remediation work needed, at that time,” said Councillor Qadri via email.
“However, more recent investigations revealed additional and more extensive corrosion of structural elements of the building, the remediation of which involved significantly more work than was required in 2006. Given that, as well as the usual inflationary increases in the cost of materials and labour, the repair costs incurred by the City most recently were significantly higher than those that were necessary to make the repairs in 2006,” he said.
Councillor Qadri provided us with a copy of the unproven statement of claim filed by the city in 2006 (see below). It stated that the city was aware of problems as early as 2002, just two years after the facility opened, when staff discovered efflorescence (a kind of salt residue usually caused by water or humidity).
The problem worsened, and in 2004 city inspectors discovered “design and construction deficiencies which were leading to deterioration of various elements of the building envelope.”
The claim alleged that in 2005 the City discovered that the pool roof might require a complete replacement.
The statement of claim alleged negligence and/or breach of contract on the part of two architects (WGA Wong Gregersen Architects and David Mailing Architect Inc.) along with M.P. Lundy Construction.
The $4-million repair job in 2013-2015 included a major overhaul of the pool facility:
- Partial demolition of the walls and new steel columns
- Re-enforcing steel columns supporting the roof
- A new “curtain wall” system
- Removal of the upper lateen and replacement of steel decking and roofing
- Replacing rusting doors and frames
- New HVAC system
- New interior finishes
- Removal of the water slide