Whitehorse Daily Star

Minister quizzed about airport apron problems

Something went awry on work done in 2014 to replace the concrete area where aircraft park and unload and load passengers at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport.

By Aimee O'Connor on December 1, 2015

Something went awry on work done in 2014 to replace the concrete area where aircraft park and unload and load passengers at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport.

In a joint venture between the federal and territorial governments, more than 200 large concrete panels were replaced in this area of the airport, called the apron.

According to NDP MLA Lois Moorcroft, 13 of those panels have already been replaced since the work was completed in 2014.

“There were some deficiencies,” Highways and Public Works Minister Scott Kent told the legislature last week.

Moorcroft quizzed Kent for answers as to how much the do-overs will cost, and who will be required to pay up.

“The company that installed them will be responsible for replacing those,” Kent said.

Department officials are working with the contractor to find a solution for the situation, he added.

The cost for the replacement work is unknown at this point, the minister said.

But Kent’s answer had further implications, Moorcroft argued Monday in the legislature, when she raised the issue again.

“When the minister says the government is negotiating with the contractor, it implies that the government is considering bearing some of the needed repair costs,” she said.

Kent quickly dismissed that interpretation, calling it another example of Opposition members being “ahead of themselves” when it comes to making insinuations about what’s happening.

Transport Canada funded a portion of the project – which was initially between $3 million and $4 million, Kent said.

Since completion, Transport Canada had a report done on the work and what had gone wrong.

Because he has not reviewed the report, Kent said, he is not in a position where he could commit to tabling it in the house.

In addition to having panels needing replacement, Moorcroft noted, monitoring wells were accidentally paved over during apron repairs.

The wells, drilled into the ground beneath the airport, are used to check and mitigate underground hydrocarbon pollution in the airfield.

New wells had to be drilled because of the paving mix-up, she said.

It’s unclear as to what the deficiencies were with the concrete panels.

The name of the local contractor is also unknown.

Officials with the Department of Highways and Public Works failed to respond to the Star’s inquiries before this afternoon’s press deadline.

Comments (10)

Up 23 Down 6

Stu Whatman on Dec 2, 2015 at 8:35 pm

“The company that installed them will be responsible for replacing those,” Kent said.

This actually means the company will complete the work but it will be paid for by taxpayers since the gov messed it up when they did not listen to the contractor.

I hope they do not blame gophers and foxes for digging dens and causing the problem. Like Yukon Energy is seems like Highways always wants to point the finger at beavers and foxes and the odd gopher.

Up 11 Down 1

BnR on Dec 2, 2015 at 4:22 pm

It's public record that the contractor was Norcope.
What should be asked is why the then minister of HPW Wade Istchenko had the qualifications for the bidders be lowered from what was recommended by HPW personnel. Concrete is not just concrete. This project had technical concerns, and these were ignored at a ministerial level.

Up 24 Down 1

CJ on Dec 2, 2015 at 2:33 pm

I hope the concrete contractor put his concerns in writing. It's easier for me to believe they told the government there were issues than otherwise. We have good concrete contractors here and they're consistent. The government, on the other hand, with its ever-shifting processes and bottom-line thinking -- let's just say, I can see how it unfolded.

Up 11 Down 3

north_of_60 on Dec 1, 2015 at 10:09 pm

@TB is correct. What passes for news reporting is largely superficial social fluff. Are reporters taught investigative journalism techniques anymore?

Up 27 Down 4

Frequent Flier on Dec 1, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Its amazing that Mr. Kent who just arrived in this position of community services could be so quick to make a public announcement of his findings related to this project.
Reading into this there are only a few factors that can cause concrete to fail long after delivery, sub base failure, unsuitable foundation, and ground movement after the year has passed.
Anyone visiting the airport can easily witness sidewalks failing and this damage lines directly into the path of the apron and far exceeds onto the taxi runway.
As I watched work progress last summer, it appeared crews were repairing patchy reinforced panels placed sporadically along the project obviously indicating ground issues.
I'm sure while YTG indicates the problem suggesting blame of who will fix the apron issues, a test of time will no doubt surface the truth of the real depth of the problem at hand which the government may not be so eager to announce.
Great job Mr. Kent identifying the failure but the public is not buying your story!

Up 17 Down 4

Wolfe on Dec 1, 2015 at 7:53 pm

@Thomas - Perhaps it is just time for YG and its band of merry men to fess up!
I dont think it should be up to the media to report skewed facts.

Up 22 Down 3

Politico on Dec 1, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Why blame it on the reporter? Why hasn't our open and accountable CONservative government come clean about this? Pouring CONcrete is not rocket science. Pouring over monitoring holes is pure stupidity. We don't even know who did it? Why can't this be released? Why does the government insist on hiding everything? These boys are tiresome.

Up 2 Down 0

DB coop on Dec 1, 2015 at 6:21 pm

I was a foreman on that project and I'll tell you, the compaction testing they did, they didn't do correctly, because a month after it was excavated and "packed" the forms went up right away. We had the ground beneath our primary slabs sink more than 18 millimeters a night.. for weeks, it all started with by not putting enough solid ground back in after excavation.

Up 80 Down 6

Lost in the Yukon on Dec 1, 2015 at 4:11 pm

... the truth shall prevail on this one. Some questions for the Minister:

1. Minister Kent is the reason for negotiations because someone in YG had signed off on the work done, knowing it was not up to code?
2. Are you also negotiating because you don't want a lot of heavy machinery parked in front of the Legislature again?
3. Can the airport be decertified because of this major screw-up?
4. What in the world do you do all day?

Up 62 Down 0

Thomas Brewer on Dec 1, 2015 at 4:07 pm

There's sure a lot of unknowns in this article. Time for a reporter to knuckle down and start digging and asking hard, pointed questions

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