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Contractor sues City of Burnaby for $900,000 in unpaid work on stream

City says some costs related to damage caused by worker's wayward boot.
stoney creek
A worker takes a photo of a washout at Stoney Creek Tributary 3A, where contractors replaced an aging culvert in 2015. The contractor is now suing the City of Burnaby for unpaid costs stemming from extra and emergency work the company did during the project.

Construction on a Stoney Creek tributary culvert that sent a load of silt into sensitive fish habitat and threatened the Trans Mountain pipeline in 2015 has become the subject of a lawsuit between a Burnaby-based contractor and the City of Burnaby.

In a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court Oct. 2, AC Paving says the city still owes the company nearly $900,000 for extra jobs and emergency work done during the project.

The local contractor was hired in September 2015 to replace a corroding culvert and to stabilize the eroding banks of Tributary 3A between Gaglardi Way and Ash Grove Crescent for an original contract price of $478,940, according court documents.

But the scope of the work changed, according to the company, especially after Oct. 30, when the west bank of the stream on the south side of Gaglardi Way failed, sending debris and sediment from the site into Stoney Creek.

The contract allowed for adjustments to price and contract time to “accommodate or otherwise allow for a concealed or unknown condition discovered on the Project site,” so the company billed the city for an additional $1,108,300.12.

The city, however, approved only an extra $229,690.47, according to AC Paving.

“The City’s failure or refusal to pay the Unpaid Amount has prevented AC Paving from obtaining sufficient bonding to bid on public procurement projects, which has resulted in a loss of revenue for AC Paving,” states the notice of civil claim. 

The document makes no mention of the cause of the Oct. 30 bank failure, which the city has said was an AC Paving employee.

Water from the stream was being diverted from the construction site with hoses and pumps, when an AC Paving worker’s boot was sucked into an inlet hose as he was maintaining a filter screen on a pump, according to a November 2015 city report.

“In the absence of the bypass, the upstream drainage flows overtopped the cofferdam and water flowed through the Construction Area,” reads the report.

Debris from the flow then compromised other bypass pumps and a storm sewer plug.

“At this point, the Construction Area was taking on full drainage flows and caused the newly placed slope to fail with a rush of water which transported sediment from the Construction Area downstream,” states the report.

The city immediately notified Kinder Morgan of the slope failure and the potential threat to its nearby Trans Mountain pipeline, according to the report, and the pipeline company decided to expose part of its pipe and support it with a mobile crane to reduce the chance of failure as the slope was being stabilized.

Crews re-established control of the upstream flows and slope erosion within several hours, according to the city report.

Among the disputed extra costs outlined in AC Paving’s lawsuit are amounts for work done to fix the damage – including slope failure and sediment pooling – the city has said was caused by the boot incident.

City of Burnaby assistant director of engineering James Lota said he couldn’t detail exactly how much of the extra cost was related to the boot.

“That’s the whole meat of the dispute,” he told the NOW. “The reason for the dispute is to work out how much each the city and the contractor are responsible for as a result of that incident. There are amounts owing and we’re trying to work out who’s responsible for what.”

AC Paving’s allegations have not been proven in court.

The city had not filed a response to the contractor’s claim by press time.