CCIL concerned about lack of government oversight in dozens of Ontario construction projects
November 21, 2013 by STAFF REPORT
The Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories (CCIL) is urging the Ontario government to require that all public infrastructure projects are independently tested and inspected.
Arising from concerns in recent weeks over the Herb Gray Parkway – a $1.4-billion highway project under construction in the municipalities of Windsor, LaSalle and Tecumseh in Ontario – where hundreds of girders had to be scrapped because of safety concerns, the CCIL warns there are dozens of other road and bridge construction contracts in which the provincial government entered into over the last few years that have not required any independent testing or inspection.
According to the CCIL, taxpayers may be faced with the costs of repairing or replacing this infrastructure much earlier than expected, and public safety could be in jeopardy.
“As we’ve seen in the case of the Herb Gray Parkway, the provincial government has no direct way of knowing whether the materials and construction methods used in these projects meet standards,” said Derwyn Reuber, executive director of CCIL.
The CCIL said under new types of Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) arrangements used by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO), such as design-build and performance-based contracts, contractors are typically responsible for warranting or maintaining the infrastructure for a period of time.
However the warranty periods are typically much shorter than the expected life of the infrastructure. “When the maintenance or warranty period is up, the contractor is off the hook and any further problems become the responsibility of government,” said Reuber.
Earlier this year, the MTO released a list of 39 design-build projects scheduled for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. The projects include work on hospitals, colleges and rapid transit systems.
“How many of these contracts are exempt from independent testing? We don’t know, but we worry that government is proceeding to spend billions of dollars on infrastructure without the proper quality assurance checks,” added Reuber.