The engineering firm that designed the pedestrian bridge spanning the Airport Parkway is firing back after the city claimed that the company refused to make changes to the plan for the project.
By Jacob Serebrin
Montreal-based Genivar claims, in a letter dated Oct. 10 and addressed to Mayor Jim Watson, that the city has “misrepresented the facts” and damaged the company’s reputation.
Concerns about the bridge’s design led the city to fire Genivar a month ago, Ottawa city Coun. Maria McRae announced in early October. The city then hired Delcan Corp. to conduct a full review of the design and undertake modifications.
Work on the pedestrian bridge, which is to connect the Hunt Club neighbourhood with the southeast Transitway, was also temporarily suspended for the second time in two years.
The move comes after the city hired another engineering firm Buckland and Taylor to investigate the support and anchoring systems for the cables that hold up the bridge.
The city said it asked Genivar to make changes to the design based on Buckland and Taylor’s recommendations, but those discussions were not productive.
The company disputes those claims. Marc Rivard, Genivar’s president for Canada, said in the letter the company would have made changes but the city didn’t give it a chance.
City officials met with Genivar on Aug. 29 to discuss the recommendations and asked the company to begin preparing a budget for a redesign of the bridge, according to the letter.
However, Genivar claims that “despite the encouraging meeting,” its contract was suspended the next day and then fully cancelled on Sept. 5.
In addition, Genivar claimed that the Buckland and Taylor review didn’t “find any errors or omissions with the original design.”
The company also said that its responsibility during construction was limited to providing design-related technical support and that the city was responsible for overseeing the actual construction work.
Construction on the bridge began in June 2011. It was originally supposed to be completed that fall but the project has been plagued by numerous delays.
In 2012, a significant portion of the bridge was torn down and rebuilt after the concrete failed to set properly.
The city has said it will “pursue legal action to recover costs,” while Genivar has demanded that the city “not make any further references to [the company’s] role on the project without [its] express written consent.”