The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) is suing the builders of the Sechelt and Area Aquatic Centre for a litany of alleged structural defects — including “dangerous defects” that “pose a real and substantial danger” to public health and safety.
The civil claim was filed Sept. 11 in the B.C. Supreme Court against Vic Davies Architect Ltd. of Victoria and 15 contractors involved in the construction project between 2006 and 2008.
It alleges the aquatic centre construction “contained building defects arising from the use of faulty and inappropriate material, faulty workmanship, faulty inspection and faulty and inappropriate design.”
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
The claim lists 24 separate deficiencies in the boiler system, which resulted in the boilers having to be replaced.
Other alleged defects include:
• Failures in the design and commissioning of the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) system that pushed warm air into the building, where it condensed and caused wall structure damage.
• Leaks in the pool and surge tank that caused damage to the adjacent area when it was demolished to allow for repairs and then reconstructed.
• Faulty design of the salt system that corroded pool equipment and led to the system having to be removed.
• Thirteen deficiencies in the building envelope, including defects that caused water damage to the building.
The combined defects, as well as the resulting damage, are identified as “dangerous defects” that could cause danger to the health or safety of staff and visitors “or will do so during the service life of the aquatic centre.”
The identified dangers are toxic mould, fire hazards and “corrosion of reinforcing steel that will compromise the ability of the aquatic centre’s components to safely and effectively transmit and resist dead loads, live loads, seismic loads and wind loads.”
The claim alleges the defendants breached their contracts, duty to warn and duty of care, resulting in costs to the SCRD for investigating and repairing the defects, and increased maintenance, management and finance costs.
The cost of correcting the defects, said the claim, is ongoing and the total cost is unknown.
The SCRD is seeking unspecified damages, including for negligence, plus interest and costs.
The 15 contractors listed in the suit are all off-Coast-based companies.
Despite the “dangerous defects” cited in the claim, the SCRD’s general manager of community services said there is “no immediate danger” to aquatic centre users.
“We’re not aware of any short-term risks to any of our patrons,” Paul Fenwick said Tuesday.
Fenwick said the SCRD was awaiting one last study — on the exterior building panels — while issues related to the boilers have been addressed.
“We did have repairs needed for the boilers over a period of time. We had gone as far as to close the facility because a boiler was not performing to our satisfaction, and we wanted to do air quality testing around that,” Fenwick said.
“Those days are behind us. We’ve completely replaced all boilers compared to what was in on the day it opened, and they form part of our claim. So the aquatic centre is safe mechanically today, 2013,” he said.
“Staff don’t want to discuss the legal claim,” he added, “but I do want to reassure the public about the safety of the building and the boilers in particular.”
Vic Davies Architect Ltd. did not respond to a request for comment.
One of the 15 contractors named in the suit, Whitewater West Industries Ltd., filed a response to the claim in B.C. Supreme Court on Oct. 7, denying any liability for the alleged construction deficiencies.
The Whitewater contract, said the response, was “limited to the design, manufacture, supply and installation of a waterslide” and was “unrelated to the design and the construction of the aquatic centre in general, or the design and construction of openings or sealing of penetrations through the building envelope in particular.”
The response also argues that the SCRD’s claim is barred under B.C.’s Limitation Act because the work was done more than six years prior to the commencement of legal action.