Expensive B.C. social housing project adds $4.5 million on to $8.5 million bill

Taxpayers in B.C. have just been told they have the pleasure of paying an additional $4.5 million for repairs on a social housing apartment complex

Dylan Gibbons Montreal QC

Taxpayers in B.C. have just been told they have the pleasure of paying an additional $4.5 million for repairs on a social housing apartment complex only nine years after $8.5 million was spent building it.

B.C.’s provincial government contracted a local construction company to build the 51-unit Dunbar Apartments as part of a social housing project to aid the homeless or those who are at risk for being homeless. However, recent repair estimates show that corners were likely cut during its construction.

“B.C. Housing, which owns the building, said by email that repairs and upgrades were expected to take 12 months using money drawn from the province’s capital renewal fund,” reports the Vancouver Sun. “It said it had identified “deficiencies with some of the materials and construction methods utilized on the exterior of the building.”

Many have already pointed out the unusual nature of the repair costs for an apartment complex that new. Construction was completed in 2011, and already it is expected that repair costs will exceed more than half of what it had cost to build Dunbar Apartments from scratch.

According to Laura Mathews, spokeswoman for B.C. Housing, the repairs include replacing all the brick veneer, replacing some of the metal cladding panels due to inadequate strength of material (poor and/or cheap materials) and poor installation methods, reinstalling all windows because they aren’t waterproof, making mechanical upgrades in the basement, and replacing the balcony drains because they don’t work and have led to overflows.

It doesn’t take a foreman to note that whoever did the original building did a terrible job, seemingly cutting corners wherever possible.

According to some professionals who weighed in, the sheer volume of problems which would have been totally preventable during the building’s construction have raised “unusual red flags,” reports the Vancouver Sun.

Aquila Construction Inc. was first contracted in 2010 to build the government-funded project for $8.54 million. According to the company’s president, Derek Bosa, he was completely unaware of the repairs needed until earlier this week and says he has not been contacted by B.C. Housing.

There are currently no lawsuits pending, but B.C. Housing hasn’t said they are ruling out that possibility either.


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