NCC Dowland part of $84.9M contract award for Nunavut research centre
NCC-Dowland “currently active,” federal government says
About a year after its workers vanished from an Iqaluit hospital building renovation site, NCC Dowland Construction Ltd. still thrives.
The federal government announced this past May 21 that EllisDon Corp., in a joint venture with NCC Dowland, will act as construction manager for the Canadian High Arctic Research Centre when building work on the project starts in the fall of 2014.
“NCC Dowland Construction Limited is a corporation that is currently active, and was not named on the May 2013 receivership order that placed Dowland Contracting Limited into receivership,” said an emailed statement that a Public Works and Government Services Canada spokesperson sent May 22 to Nunatsiaq News.
The CHARS contract, worth $84.9 million, includes advisory work that the EllisDon-NCC Dowland venture was contracted for in June 2013.
Dowland Contracting and other related companies, including Dowland Construction Ltd, went belly-up on May 21, 2013, when an Alberta superior court judge put the insolvent firm’s assets into the hands of a receiver.
Dowland and its subsidiaries owed $83 million to the Royal Bank of Canada and $51.7 million to a long list of unsecured creditors scattered across northern Canada, many of them suppliers and sub-contractors.
The receiver, Alvarez and Marsal Canada Inc., is now attempting to auction off Dowland’s assets to raise funds to pay creditors.
The name of NCC Dowland — itself a joint venture between Dowland Contracting and NCC Investment Group — disappeared from the Government of Nunavut’s list of Nunavut based companies following Dowland’s financial collapse.
But NCC Dowland Construction Ltd. is still listed on Industry Canada’s registry of corporations — with an office address located in Toronto’s financial district at 199 Bay Street, Suite 4000.
That’s the Toronto address of Blake, Cassels and Graydon LLP, a big national law firm.
Industry Canada lists two directors for NCC Dowland. One director is Greg Cayen, whose address is listed at an apartment located in Iqaluit at building 1104B in the Inuksagait Plaza. Cayen is also the president and chief executive officer of NCC Investment Group.
The other director is Patrick McGuinness of London, Ont. McGuinness is still listed as the president and CEO of Dowland Contracting on Dowland’s website.
NCC Dowland is a joint venture between the NCC group and Dowland Contracting Ltd., according to legal documents filed with Dowland’s receiver.
Of 100,000 shares outstanding, Dowland held 49,000 and NCC held the rest, making the Inuit-owned NCC the majority shareholder. The partners were to make decisions together on what projects to pursue.
Dowland would do the construction work, while NCC would receive “participation fees,” the documents state.
The NCC group is owned by Nunasi Corp. and the three regional Inuit birthright development corporations, each of which owns 25 per cent of NCC.
NCC emerged unscathed from the financial crisis that brought down its joint venture partner last year and caused work to be suspended at an Iqaluit hospital renovation project and a new office building in Cambridge Bay that Dowland was building for the Kitikmeot Inuit Association.
That KIA project will now be completed by an entity called Kitikmeot Region Properties Inc., under a settlement agreement.
But the federal government said NCC Dowland’s joint venture with EllisDon is financially solid.
“As part of normal due diligence the department performs before awarding contracts, PWGSC conducted a financial review of the joint venture, which determined it to be sound,” Public Works Canada said in its May 22 email to Nunatsiaq News.
The CHARS contract, worth $84.9 million, includes a recent award for construction management services and an earlier contract award for “advisory services” dating to June 2013.
That contract forms a big part of the $188 million CHARS project, which Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Aug. 23, 2012 in Cambridge Bay.
That spending — $46.2 million over six years for a scientific research programs and $142.4 million for total construction costs — will produce an 8,500-square-metre research station to be located at the “Plateau site,” just outside Cambridge Bay.
The collection of buildings will include laboratory space, offices, workshops, staff accommodations, dining and food preparation facilities, and a recreation area.