Hamilton city council will consider excluding Century Group Inc., contractors on the delayed J.L. Grightmire Arena addition, from any future bids and contracts.
Councillors on the audit, finance and administration committee passed for the second time three confidential staff recommendations on ending a commercial relationship with the company following an in camera discussion closed to the public on Thursday, Jan. 17.
The committee previously passed the same recommendations — which remain secret until approved by full city council — in a December meeting but held off on finalizing them at city council last month to give Century Group vice-president Eric Zvaniga an opportunity to speak to the committee.
On Thursday, Zvaniga provided a seven-page letter including dozens of issues with the project’s design, challenges with the site and the existing building that he said contributed to the project being far from completion more than four months past the original deadline.
We don’t want to deal with contractors who are a year late. — Lloyd Ferguson
He noted Century Group received a Dec. 11 letter from procurement manager Tina Iacoe stating “the relationship between CGI and the City has been impaired and the City will receive recommendations from City staff that the City will not accept any bids nor enter into any future contracts with CGI.”
Zvaniga said he joined Century Group last March — six months into the Grightmire project which is now ongoing for 15 months — and he dealt with issues the company had with a site manager and “doubled-up” on resources — but still couldn’t “push the needle forward.” He said something other than the company’s effort was preventing progress.
“It is important to understand CGI has no control of, or responsibility for, the consultants or the design,” Zvaniga said.
He listed several problems with the design and ongoing changes that have “impacted our ability to execute the work.”
Zvaniga noted one recent issue: fire rating between the existing structure and the new addition did not go all the way to the roof deck in the design, and now the contractor will have to reopen completed construction work.
He said Century Group has done its best to deal with the challenges.
“We cannot understand why the city would seek to exclude CGI from future work for the city,” Zvaniga said.
But Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, and the rest of the committee, were not swayed by Century Group’s arguments.
Ferguson said a contractor can always say the drawings were wrong and caused delays, but have to present proof of the errors and evidence of communication with city staff about them.
“We don’t want to deal with contractors who are a year late,” Ferguson said. “This has caused horrible inconvenience to user groups. (They had) a clear understanding they would be out for a year and they’re now double that. It puts the ward councillor in a difficult position.”
Coun. Judi Partridge noted the impact goes well beyond Grightmire Arena itself and the community of Dundas, with the Dundas Real McCoys hockey club relocating to Harry Howell Arena in Flamborough, for example, affecting scheduling there, as well.
Dundas Minor Hockey Association teams have also been moved to arenas across the city, affecting ice schedules elsewhere the past two seasons.
Partridge asked why Century Group was just submitting the long summary of site challenges, design problems and changes now, in a letter distributed to city staff and committee members the morning of the second committee discussion on the topic in a month. The letter was dated one day before the meeting.
Zvaniga said all the issues were communicated with city staff, and if councillors weren’t receiving that information, “that’s concerning.”
The committee met in camera with legal and other staff for at least 90 minutes, discussing this and two other matters before voting unanimously to again forward the three confidential recommendations to city council — which was scheduled to meet next on Wednesday, Jan. 23. The three recommendations are to be made public following council approval.
With all the ongoing issues at Grightmire, there is no target date for completion of the addition and renovations.