Firm sues Victoria over Johnson Street Bridge work, says it’s owed $300,000

Victoria is being sued by one of its main consultants for non-payment of about $300,000 worth of design work on the new Johnson Street Bridge.

WSP Canada Group Ltd., formerly known as MMM Group Ltd., hired in 2012 as an engineering consultant on the bridge project, filed a notice of civil claim on Jan. 30 at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. WSP says that at the direction of the city, it provided additional professional services related to the design of fendering to protect the new bridge’s northern piers.

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“The city requested multiple designs of the fendering and further work associated with the fendering that was outside of the initial scope of work contemplated by the engineer agreement,” the statement of claim says.

MMM Group, responding to a change order in August 2015, “provided the city with additional services for the re-design of the north approach fendering for loaded vessels travelling at five knots, in accordance with the city’s directions,” the statement of claim says.

“Upon tendering the re-design completed by the MMM Group, the city halted the tendering process and directed further re-designs of the north approach fendering. MMM Group subsequently provided additional services associated with multiple re-designs of the north approach fendering,” it says.

MMM is seeking payment of $297,312.96 plus interest and legal costs.

The city has yet to file a response.

Asked for comment, city spokesman Bill Eisenhauer released the following statement: “The matter is before the court and the city will defend the claim through the legal process.”

As the rest of the Johnson Street Bridge nears completion, plans for the fenders, needed to protect the new bridge piers from outbound vessels, remain unresolved, with no indication of potential costs.

Project director Jonathan Huggett told Victoria councillors last March that plans were for existing bridge piers on the south side of the new bridge to remain and be skinned with wood strips to act as fenders for in-bound vessels.

However, he said, fenders to protect the new bridge piers from outbound vessels still had to be designed and weren’t included in the existing project budget. He did not expect the fenders to be installed until after the new bridge opens.

Huggett said at the time the contractor had included a figure of about $1.6 million for all of the fendering work and was told in March 2014 to proceed with the fendering, but design of the north side fendering was not done.

Installation of the north side fendering could be complex as a Telus duct runs atop the seabed where fendering has to be installed.

The bridge project, not including the fendering, is expected to cost $105 million. When citizens voted in the 2010 bridge referendum, the estimate was $63 million.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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