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Did 'defective' Burnaby track expose elite athletes to 'substantial danger'?

A lawsuit filed by the City of Burnaby last week says bubbling and delamination were discovered 'throughout' the Swangard Stadium track on the day of the 39th Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome International Track Classic two years ago.

The City of Burnaby is suing three companies over defects in the Swangard Stadium track discovered on the same day as the 39th Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome International Track Classic two years ago, according to a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court Friday.

The city signed contracts with R.F. Binnie and Associates Ltd. and Marathon Surfaces Inc. in June 2017 to get "complete synthetic running track and field surfacing" installed at Swangard, according to the claim.

Binnie, a Vancouver civil engineering firm, was hired to perform consulting services for the project, according to the claim, including a field survey, drafting, design, costing, contract administration, inspection and other services.

Marathon, a Vancouver company specializing in installing synthetic surfaces, was hired to install the track.

The third company named in the suit, APT Advance Polymer Tech Corp., supplied the surfacing product.

The track was "installed by Marathon using materials provided by APT and supervised by Binnie," the claim states.

The work started on June 26, 2017 and was complete by the spring of 2018, according to the claim.

It came with a five-year manufacturer's warranty, and the city claims Marathon said it would be serviceable for five years.

But on June 14, 2022, the day of the Harry Jerome Classic, staff at the stadium noticed "delamination and/or bubbling throughout the track surface," according to the claim.

The city said the issue prompted the complete closure of the track to "ensure the safety of its staff, users and/or attendees of the track during events" as well as the general public.

(Based on competition results posted online, however, there is no indication any events were cancelled during the Harry Jerome Classic that year.)

After a warranty demand from the city, Marathon hired Metro Testing + Engineering to inspect the track.

The city also paid for its own inspection by Sports Labs LLC.

A Nov. 11, 2022 Sports Labs report found surface irregularities and bubbles, soft spots, delamination and discolouration, according to the city's claim.

The "root cause" of the problems, according to Sports Labs, was "uncured material within the layers of the track material," and the only option to correct them was a complete removal and replacement of the track, the claim states.

The city claims the defects were caused by the breach of contract and negligence of the three companies.

The city further claims Marathon and ADT have refused to honour their warranties.

It is now suing the three companies for damages, including the cost of investigating the defects, the cost to remove and replace the track, the cost to repair and replace damaged asphalt and concrete fixtures, extra expenses, including rental expenses, and professional and consulting fees.

The track defects posed a "real and substantial danger to the users of the track," according to the notice of civil claim.

The NOW asked the city whether the defects were discovered before, during or after the Harry Jerome Classic on June 14, 2022, and whether athletes who competed at the event – including 2020 Olympic Champion decathlete Damian Warner – were exposed to that danger.

The city said the track was "closed to the public on June 22, 2022 and all track user groups on July 18, 2022."

"It has been replaced and was reopened on May 15th this year," public affairs manager Chris Bryan said in an emailed statement.

"In regard to your other questions, the track defects are the subject of a court action and the city is not able to provide anything further than what is already in the notice of civil claim."

None of the city's claims has been proven in court.

None of the defendants has yet filed a response to the suit.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on X/Twitter @CorNaylor
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