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Council on outside of Urbacon suit: Pappert

City CAO Ann Pappert says her predecessor, Hans Loewig, fired Urbacon from the city hall construction project without seeking approval from city council.
In a memo posted late Thursday afternoon on Coun. Ian Findlay’s Ward 2 blog, Pappert said she wanted to provide council members with “clarity on the decision to terminate the contract with Urbacon” in September 2008.
The council of the day “received verbal updates” from Loewig “on the status of the city hall construction project,” Pappert said.
Loewig “was advised by legal, professional external consultants and project management staff. After consideration of their advice, the CAO made the decision to terminate Urbacon’s contract,” she said.
“On Sept. 19, 2008, the administration terminated Urbacon’s right to work to completion and ordered them off the site,” she added.
Pappert said “a complete legal search of council files” has shown that “there was no report to council seeking council approval of this decision” by Loewig to fire Urbacon.
“There is no resolution of council directing staff to terminate the contract,” she said. “Rather, on Oct. 17, 2008, the administration formally terminated the contract with Urbacon. After that, on Oct. 27, 2008, administration brought the matter to a closed session report to council seeking direction on litigation.”
Urbacon filed a $20-million breach-of-contract lawsuit against the city on Oct. 9, 2008. A judge of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice ruled in Urbacon’s favour last week, finding the city liable in the case. At the same time, the judge dismissed the city’s $5-million counterclaim against Urbacon.
The judge hasn’t yet released any reasons for this decision, though.
In the absence of the judge’s “rationale for his dismissal of our position, further dialogue is subjective at best and places our reputation at risk,” Pappert said in her memo.
In July 2006, while former mayor Kate Quarrie was in office, Toronto-based Urbacon Buildings Group Corp. was awarded a $42-million contract as general contractor for the construction of a new city hall and for the conversion of the old city hall into a provincial offences courthouse.
The $42-million contract included about $32.5 million for the new city hall and $9.5 million for the POA courthouse. Urbacon’s firing in September 2008 meant it couldn’t complete the city hall construction and couldn’t be involved in the courthouse conversion.
Quarrie lost to Karen Farbridge in the mayoral election in the fall of 2006. Loewig, who had served as Brantford’s CAO from 1999 to 2004 as part of a long career in the municipal sector, was hired as Guelph’s interim CAO in June 2007. He was later given a contract lasting until December 2012.
However, Loewig announced in early March of 2011 that he would retire a year early for personal and family reasons. Age 65 at the time, he’d fallen ill during a council meeting a couple of weeks earlier.

One Response to “Council on outside of Urbacon suit: Pappert”

  1. janney says:

    What is really the truth?
    In a article from the Guelph Mercury, March 27, 2013 recording the court case it states:
    The decision to fire the general contractor hired to build Guelph’s new city hall complex was the burden of many people at the city and came about with council input, according to court testimony.

    The Ontario Superior Court of Justice is exploring whether the City of Guelph had the legal right to end a contract it had with Urbacon Buildings Group Corp. to build the new city hall. After several construction delays, Urbacon’s contract was terminated on Sept. 19, 2008. Urbacon sued the city for wrongful dismissal and the city followed with a countersuit.

    Murray McCrae, the city’s manager of corporate property, testified Wednesday the decision to terminate Urbacon’s contract wasn’t his decision alone. Former city solicitor Lois Payne, former chief administrative officer Hans Loewig, Mayor Karen Farbridge and members of council were also involved in the process.

    “No one person could have made that decision,” McCrae said.

    So either Mr. McCrae lied in sworn testimony, which I very much doubt, or Ann Pappert is leading us along the garden path and we need someone to tell her that she better stop lying as we have enough of that at city hall. Now we can add her to the list of spin it my way and hope they don’t remember what was sworn to in court.

    Maybe the next person walked out of city hall needs to be Ann Pappert, but likely will be Mr McCrae.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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