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TWU sues contractors after power failure at newest dorms

University claims electrical system was defective
Skidmore Hall was built to accommodate 130 predominantly first-year students at Trinity Western University, and opened in 2017. (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley’s Trinity Western University is suing the firms that built its newest student dormitory, claiming that the electrical work was so deficient it caused a major power failure in 2022.

TWU filed the lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court in Abbotsford on April 4, with a statement of claim that names ATCO Structures, Stantec Consulting, several other individuals and consultants, and the British Columbia Safety Authority.

The builders named in the lawsuit all worked on Skidmore Hall, which was completed and opened in 2017. The first expansion to the university’s student housing in 25 years, it was a largely pre-fab structure designed to provide living quarters for about 130 first-year students.

At the opening ceremony, the university touted the modular nature of the construction, which allowed the bulk of the work to be done in just four months.

TWU senior vice president of business administration and CFO Bob Nice.

“Concurrent with the foundation portion being put in place, the modules are built off site and then brought on site,” Bob Nice, TWU’s then-CFO said shortly before the opening. “It enables us to do it much quicker than a typical construction [project].”

READ MORE: TWU meets growing demand with addition of student dorm

However, TWU’s lawsuit now alleges that the construction of the building’s electrical system had a string of defects, which led to a power failure on April 15, 2022, which required a temporary power source and immediate emergency repairs.

The defects allegedly included the design and installation of the new building’s electrical vault, which was designed and built by Stantec, and installed under a parking lot on the site.

Among other issues, TWU alleges that the vault sank, damaging power lines and electrical components, that there were issues with water and drainage in the vault, and that this caused damage to electrical systems, structures, drainage systems, landscaping, and/or roads.

TWU is suing for damages including the cost of investigating and repairing the damage, insurance deductibles, increased maintenance and insurance costs, and the costs associated with the temporary power source put in place after the power failure.

None of the allegations in TWU’s filing have been tested or proven in court.

The defendants in the case have not yet filed a response with the courts. The Langley Advance Times has reached out to ATCO and Stantec for comment.

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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