Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut February 17, 2014 - 3:41 pm

Nunavut regional hospital renovation getting back on track

Ontario company hired to pick up the pieces Dowland left behind

LISA GREGOIRE

Renovations to the old, beleaguered Baffin Regional Hospital building will resume in March after the $32.3 million project ground to a halt in May 2013 when the contractor, NCC-Dowland Construction Ltd., went belly-up.

Orillia, Ont.-based Quinan Construction Ltd. will take over the project, said a Feb. 17 press release from the Nunavut Department of Community and Government Services.

“Getting this project back on track means we are able to better address demand for medical services in this facility,” Tom Sammurtok, the CGS minister, said in the release.

“We experienced some initial set-backs but are pleased to see the renovations resume.”

The release says Quinan specializes in hospital renovations and has successfully completed 28 hospital projects in Ontario.

Because Feb. 17 is a holiday in Ontario and the company does not appear to have a website, Nunatsiaq News was unable to reach Quinan to confirm that information.

Renovations to the Qikiqtani General Hospital’s old BRH section began in 2012 with the removal of hazardous materials.

The BRH section is the old hospital building, constructed in 1964, that was replaced when the Qikiqtani General Hospital opened in 2007.

NCC-Dowland was a partnership between the Inuit-owned NCC Investment Group (NIG) and Dowland Contracting Ltd., a company based in Inuvik and Edmonton.

The first phase of the project was nearly completed when NCC-Dowland dissolved, and Dowland Contracting Ltd. — whose website still says “Dependable Reliable Responsive” — went into receivership, leaving behind a long list of creditors across the country and more than $46 million in secured and unsecured debt.

Since then, the receiver, Alvarez & Marsal Canada Inc., has been selling off the properties of Dowland and its subsidiaries to raise money to pay those creditors.

In the fall of 2013, for example, Canonbie Contracting Ltd. bought up the rights to the name Dowland Industrial Works Ltd., as well as its customer and employee lists and miscellaneous tools for $200,000, according to documents on the Alvarez & Marsal website.

While receivership transactions were unfolding, another firm, NCC Development Ltd., stepped in to act as general contractor on the Iqaluit hospital project until the territorial government could find a new contractor.

Quinan will now take the lead on the project.

The next phase in the renovation includes the addition of a new entrance to the building with an elevator and a new loading bay in the rear of the building.

“Once the project is complete, we will be able to offer 26 additional clinical spaces for patient care and community wellness services,” said Monica Ell, the territory’s health minister, in the news release. “The integration of this new space gives patients a full-range of services in one convenient location.”

In yet another twist on this renovation story of woe, a sub-contractor in charge of demolishing part of the hospital and removing asbestos in preparation for the renovation has been charged with safety violations.

Lawyers appeared in the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit Feb. 17 to speak to the matter but it was adjourned until March 17.

Arctic Environmental Services Ltd. and its supervisor, Robert Valleau, have been jointly charged with six counts of breaching the Nunavut Safety Act, General Safety Regulations and Asbestos Regulations.

All charges are related to the unsafe handling of asbestos alleged to have occurred in January 2013. 

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