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Thursday, October 8, 2020

The company building the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is now suing Ontario

More drama has arisen from Toronto's long-running Eglinton Crosstown LRT project, which has exasperated drivers, pedestrians, and local businesses for years now.

Just days after it was revealed that the opening of parts of the transit line would be delayed even further, the company that is building it has made the unexpected move to sue the province of Ontario and Crown transit agency Metrolinx.

Crosslinx Transit Solutions officially filed its application with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Thursday, in which it blames the provincial government for $134 million in unanticipated costs related to the pandemic.

The organization cited the province's "refusal to declare COVID-19 an emergency and recognize the significant impacts the global pandemic is having on Eglinton Crosstown LRT construction," calling that refusal a breach of contract.

The millions in costs, Crosslinx says, are due to things like supply chain problems, bringing in and enforcing new COVID-19 measures on the job, and high rates of "COVID-19 related absenteeism" among its workforce — factors that it believes were aggravated by the fact that the province failed to provide "relief and assistance," which it should have been obligated to.

"It was not within the contemplation of the parties to the project agreement, and is in conflict with the provisions of that agreement, that all risks and costs associated with the adaptive measures made necessary by an emergency like the pandemic would be borne by the applicants," the claim reads.

"The respondents have breached their obligations of good faith and honest performance in the circumstances."

Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster has since responded to the litigation, saying in a news release that Crosslinx was floundering with the project even before the health crisis hit.

"Well before COVID-19 hit us, we already declared that CTS was not going to meet their completion date... Since our announcement, CTS’s performance has not improved, despite our active support," he wrote on Thursday.

"CTS now suggests the COVID-19 pandemic is hurting their production. However, CTS’s lack of productivity was a problem from well before the pandemic hit... Rather than legal action, we need CTS to focus on what is most important — getting the Eglinton project completed."

Verster added that since Aug. 2018, the construction consortium has provided only 72 per cent of the work they promised to finish, and that Metrolinx has taken steps to ensure progress could continue through COVID-19, such as having work sites declared essential operations during lockdown.

Though Crosslinx alleges that its "repeated efforts to work collaboratively with Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario failed," it is still planning to stay on the project until it is finished in 2022.

by Becky Robertson via blogTO

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