Essex Loses Fire Hall Controversy

(ESSEX, ON) – The Town of Essex is about to cut a very large check; $238,988.53 to be exact. Wednesday in the Court of Appeal in Toronto, three Ontario justices upheld a previous decision by Windsor Justice Scott Campbell, which came as a result of a law suit launched by a local construction company.

In April 2012, Essex awarded a contract to Gulf Developments to build the new fire hall. It came on the recommendation of then Fire Chief Ed Pillon and agreed to by then CAO Wayne Miller, director Donna Hunter, and Town Council.

However, 21 days after the contract was awarded, a post-tender addendum was attached to the original tender for the inclusion of stamped or coloured concrete to what is now Station No. 1 on Alice Street. The town reversed its original bid winner. Instead of Gulf getting the job, the town gave it to PCR of the Collavino Group.

The cost to build the new fire hall, which included administration offices and an EMS station, was about $2.7 million.

Gulf and lawyer Rodney Godard took the town to court and, on December 16, 2016, nearly $240,000 was awarded to Gulf. The town appealed the decision and the whole thing went to the appeal court in Toronto.

“While disappointed in the ruling, the Town of Essex will, in all likelihood accept the decision at this time and adhere to the provisions outlined in the decision,” Essex CAO Donna Hunter wrote to the Essex News Blog. Hunter said that the town does not believe it was in conflict with the bidding/tendering legislation and that there was no intention of “bid-shopping.”

“The ruling will be taken into consideration for future tenders that we use,” Hunter added.

In addition to the amount against the town, the Court of Appeal also ordered Essex to pay $12,500 in costs.

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About the Author

Fred Groves
Formerly with the Essex Free Press, Fred Groves is a local journalist and the author of Rising from the Rubble, the story of the 1980 explosion which leveled the town, and of Homeless Not Hopeless, an in depth look at five people living on the streets of Windsor and how they turned heir lives around.