Multiple lawsuits over Johnson Street Bridge construction


WATCH: The embattled Johnson Street Bridge saga continues with lawsuits and countersuits. Tess van Straaten reports.  

Victoria’s shiny new Johnson Street Bridge was years overdue opening and tens of millions of dollars over budget and now, the embattled project is at the centre of two different lawsuits.

“A lot of people lost a lot of money on this project,” says the City of Victoria’s bridge project manager Jonathan Huggett. “Whether they have any claim against the city is yet to be determined.”

Atema, the company bridge builder PCL sub-contracted to oversee steel fabrication in China, is suing PCL and the City of Victoria for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The civil suit claims PCL owes them almost CAD $172,000 in unpaid invoices and interest.

The lawsuit is also seeking almost CAD $91,000 from the city that was held back in a builder’s lien fund. But the city says taxpayers aren’t liable in any way.

“When PCL asked us to release the money we were holding back we refused to release about $113,000, which was the amount claimed by Atema against PCL, plus an allowance for our legal fees in administering that money,” explains Huggett. “We won’t release the funds until we’re instructed by a court on who to release them to.”

PCL declined requests for an interview saying they’re unable to comment on any legal proceedings before the courts.

But they’ve filed a counterclaim against Atema, alleging the company was negligent in its duties and did inferior work.

PCL alleges numerous things were done incorrectly — including improper welding procedures, the use of unapproved parts, and failure to conduct proper inspections repeatedly — resulting in delays and increased costs.

In all, 29 separate issues are listed but the city says the bridge is safe.

“We did not rely on Atema, we had our own consultants going there and a lot of the issues I think named in the claim are because our consultants would not accept the work that was over there,” says Huggett. “The project we got is safe and meets all of the qualities of the contract.”

The city is also facing a lawsuit from PCL, for unspecified damages, over design issues and costs but officials say negotiations are on-going.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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