A Hay River company is having difficulty fulfilling a contract for modular homes with the GNWT.

The issue came up in the territorial legislature on Oct. 19 with questions to Caroline Cochrane, the minister responsible for the NWT Housing Corporation.

Julie Green, the MLA for Yellowknife Centre, asked Cochrane about the contract awarded to Concept Energy Services Ltd. in 2016 to construct 19 modular duplexes in Hay River for shipment to communities throughout the NWT.

In particular, Green asked how many of those duplexes have been completed and how many have been shipped to their destinations.

“Today, what we have is eight of the 19 buildings are now partially completed,” replied Cochrane. “We have three that are in Ulukhaktok, one in Inuvik destined for Fort McPherson, and four are now under construction in Concept’s Hay River facility.”

Cochrane noted the original contract completion dates were between March and June 2017.

“There were some delays that have been happening, so at this point they have not met the completion date,” she said.

Green asked if Cochrane was taking any action to either revoke the contract with Concept Energy Services Ltd. or to work with the company to have the terms and conditions of the contract met.

“At this point, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation is exploring all of the options that are available to us to ensure that all of the houses actually meet their needs within the communities,” said Cochrane, adding that the number one priority is to ensure that homes are in communities and that is why some partially-completed units were shipped to Ulukhaktok.

Attempts by The Hub last week to contact Concept Energy Services Ltd. president Pierre (Rocky) Simpson for reaction to the minister’s comments were unsuccessful.

In the legislature, Green attempted to obtain financial details of the contract.

However, Cochrane said the full contract would not be available because of the Privacy Act.

The minister said there will not be any further payments to Concept Energy Services Ltd. until the products are complete or near completion.

Cochrane said a tender to complete the units in Ulukhaktok is out or will be soon.

Green noted her understanding is that 11 units are outstanding.

“What are the options for completing these remaining units?” she asked Cochrane.

The minister said many options are being looked at.

“We can either work with supporting Concept Energy to do them,” she said. “There are a variety of options. We can put them out to public tender. We can look at negotiated contracts within communities. There is a whole gamut of different options that we can consider.”

In a statement to the legislature, Green noted that, when announced, the contract to Concept Energy Services Ltd. and a smaller contract for one two-bedroom unit to Yellowknife’s Energy Wall Building Products – which did successfully complete the unit – were heralded by Cochrane as a game changer that would create a new northern manufacturing industry.

“My fear is that a promising idea hasn’t panned out,” said Green. “Instead of being a game changer, the northern manufacturing of modular homes is a bust.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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