Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No answers for woman who says Disraeli project damaged home

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A claim that the Disraeli Freeway reconstruction damaged a North Point Douglas home appears to have fallen through the cracks between the city and the private consortium responsible for the $195-million project.

Over the past two years, a consortium of construction, engineering and management firms called Plenary Roads Winnipeg has rebuilt the 1.1-kilometre Disraeli Freeway and Overpass as part of a public-private partnership with the City of Winnipeg.

In October, Mayor Sam Katz and Premier Greg Selinger announced the completion of the project, although work remains to be done on components such as a bike-and-pedestrian bridge over the Red River and ramps on to Disraeli Street in North Point Douglas.

Georgina Wood, a Disraeli Street resident whose home faces the freeway, claims vibrations from two years of construction have created cracks in her 110-year-old residence and separated windows from their frames. Last fall and winter, while heavy machinery operated across the street, the vibrations were strong enough to dislodge pots and pans from her kitchen wall, she claims.

When she first complained to the city, in December 2011, she was referred to PCL Construction, one of the companies that make up the Plenary Roads consortium.

She then spent five months attempting to convince the company's insurance adjuster to visit her home, succeeding after she contacted media and Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie.

In July, the consortium's insurance company concluded the damage was the result of dry weather that's led to foundation problems across Winnipeg this year. Wood insists the damage showed up during the winter and urged the city to consider her claim.

But the city claims department handed her complaint back to Plenary Roads, which already denied responsibility for the damage. Wood said the city's claims department advised her to get a lawyer -- which is something she can not afford.

"They're basically saying we don't count," Wood said. "If this was Linden Woods or Whyte Ridge, things would have happened a lot quicker. The treatment we've had is despicable."

Wood said she has asked to see a geological risk assessment conducted by Plenary Roads but has been denied access to the document. The consortium videotaped all homes in the area to assess their conditions before the work began, she claims.

A spokeswoman for the City of Winnipeg refused to answer queries about the issue, citing "confidentiality and contractual reasons" pertaining to Plenary Roads Winnipeg.

During the summer, the city's bridge planning and operations engineer confirmed claims relating to the Disraeli reconstruction are the responsibility of the private construction consortium. "Construction damage is covered under the contractor's insurance," Brad Neirinck said.

The diffusion of responsibility is frustrating, said Eadie, who called on Plenary Roads to release the geological risk assessment.

"Because this is a public-private partnership, the homeowner has no ability to get answers or demand recourse," Eadie said.

Plenary Roads Winnipeg is a consortium of the Plenary Group, PCL Construction, Wardrop Engineering, Stantec and Borland Construction.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 12, 2012 A3

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