Friday, February 02, 2024

Yukon Seeks $8.5 Million in Whitehorse Airport Apron Crack Dispute; Contractor Denies Responsibility in Appeals Case


This week, the Yukon Court of Appeal was the stage for heated arguments regarding the 2014 replacement of the Whitehorse airport’s concrete apron, which showed signs of cracking soon after completion. Lawyers representing contractor Norcope Enterprises Ltd., Intact Insurance Company, and the Yukon government presented their cases, each denying responsibility for the flawed project.

Yukon Seeks $8.5 Million in Whitehorse Airport Apron Crack Dispute; Contractor Denies Responsibility in Appeals Case

The dispute began when the Yukon government, after awarding Norcope a multimillion-dollar contract for the apron replacement at Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport, observed cracks in the concrete panels the same year. The government's lawsuit against Norcope and Intact Insurance, the project's bond-holder, led to a counter-lawsuit from Norcope, culminating in a five-week trial.

Yukon Supreme Court deputy Justice Adele Kent's ruling last year found all parties – the government, Norcope, and subcontractor Tetra Tech (responsible for quality control) – variably responsible. The government's lack of supervision, Norcope's poor construction practices, and Tetra Tech's inadequate quality control and faulty concrete mix were cited as contributing factors.

After settling with Tetra Tech outside court, the government was awarded more than $2.3 million from Norcope, with Intact Insurance also held jointly liable. However, all parties have appealed the decision.

Norcope's lawyer, James Tucker, argued that not all concrete panels were poorly constructed and questioned the court's reliance on Tetra Tech's report, suggesting alternative causes like frost heaves for the damage. Norcope seeks to overturn the damages order or demands a new trial.

Intact Insurance's lawyer, Nigel Beckmann, supported Norcope's stance, emphasizing contractual obligations. Meanwhile, Yukon government lawyer I.H. Fraser argued for increased damages from Norcope, contesting any government liability and claiming the work was defective from the start.

The government is now seeking a revised order for Norcope to pay $8,569,894.76, considering the costs of replacement and usage of the defective apron.

The appeal, heard by a panel of three judges, awaits a decision, the date of which remains unspecified. This ongoing legal battle highlights the complexities of public infrastructure projects and the ensuing accountability issues.

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