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Burnaby school district suing architect over multimillion-dollar project

Project shut down by the city because Dimas Craveiro Architect AIBC failed to get the necessary building permit, according to allegations in the school district's lawsuit
The Burnaby school district is suing the architect it hired to turn an empty school into an adult education centre and child-care facility.

The district is seeking damages from Vancouver firm Dimas Craveiro Architect AIBC for breach of contract, negligence, negligent misrepresentation and failure of duty to warn, according to a notice of civil claim filed in Vancouver Supreme Court last month.

The lawsuit stems from a multimillion-dollar renovation project at the old Marian High School site at 7650 Sapperton Ave. in East Burnaby.

In October 2019, the district released a comprehensive plan to get more child care into Burnaby schools.

At the Marian building – which had formerly been leased to an independent Christian school – the district outlined a plan to create 91 new child-care spaces.

They also outlined a plan to house an adult education program in the building for people training to become early childhood educators – who could get hands-on experience at the on-site child-care centre.

The district estimated the costs for the renovations would be nearly $2.6 million, and the new centre could be “up and running” by summer 2020, according to the report.

The district had already signed a contract with Craveiro in June 2019 for “architect and consulting services” on the project, according to the district’s notice of civil claim.

The district alleges the firm was responsible for hiring all the necessary sub-consultants, including structural and civil engineers; acting as lead consultant; and – along with their sub-consultants – certifying the work and completion of the project.

Under the terms of the contract, Craveiro was to have gotten the project done by summer 2020, according to the district’s claim.

But the district claims the firm breached the contract.

It outlines a number of allegations, including that Craveiro prepared “inadequate” designs and specifications; that its initial design and specifications resulted in the renovated Marian building being out of compliance with the applicable version of the BC Building Code; that the firm delayed the project by not proceeding with “reasonable dispatch,” that it didn’t apply for a building permit from the city before the start of construction; that it didn’t provide “timely, proper, adequate or sufficiently detailed contract administration for the construction project”; and that it didn’t get the job done on time.

Construction on the project started “in accordance with the direction and plans and design and specifications given and/or prepared” by the architect, according to the district’s claim, but the city later shut down the project after it determined it needed a building permit that hadn’t been applied for.

The district says that resulted in “delay and extra costs.”

“After a substantial delay during which the defendants’ plans, designs and specifications had to be revised so as to allow a building permit to be obtained from the City of Burnaby, a building permit was obtained and construction was resumed in July 2021,” states the claim.

Because of the architect’s alleged negligence and breach of contract, the district claims it has “suffered and continues to suffer damages,” including the costs of consultants, project delays, added costs of completing the project because of having to carry out work on a “time and materials” basis rather than being able to tender the work competitively, and loss of rental and other income from the Marian building.

Craveiro has not yet filed a response to the district’s claims, and none of the district’s allegations has been proven in court.

The Marian Building is currently surrounded by blue construction fencing and renovations appear to be ongoing.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
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