Foundation problem at Whistle Bend care facility will be dealt with, Yukon gov't says

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Foundation problem at Whistle Bend care facility 'minor issue' contractor says

The Yukon government is waiting for word about the severity of a problem with the foundation of the new $146.6 million extended care facility in Whitehorse.

Public Works minister Richard Mostyn won't be specific about the concerns with the site. He said he doesn't know how big or small the problem is, or what impact, if any, it will have on the project.

But he said workers brought to Yukon to put up structural steel were sent home last week by contractor PCL Construction, without finishing their work.

"They weren't comfortable proceeding with it at this time," said Mostyn.

"It doesn't make sense, until they figure out what's going on. They're sending up a team of people to assess what's going on."

Mostyn said PCL Construction is five times the size of the Yukon government and he's confident it can do the job it promised.

"They have an army of engineers and professionals; they do this for a living," he said.

"They looked at this project and said, 'we can do it,' and then they started doing it. I have to trust in their engineering prowess to get the job done.

"They've identified a problem, they are going to deal with that problem. They've assured me they're going to deal with that problem."

Mostyn said "At the end of this process, we're going to have a building that Yukoners can be proud of."

'A terrible site'

When work began on the 150-bed facility last year, red flags were raised by civil engineer Robert Wills.

"It's just a terrible site," Wills told CBC News last June, about the location in the Whistle Bend neighbourhood.

"I'm just startled that we're here talking about it, why we've chosen that site," he said at the time.

Wills said there was too much "questionable material" — clay or silt that makes it difficult for construction machinery to move on, and also doesn't allow for adequate water drainage.

"In the North, you have to get rid of the water, otherwise you're in trouble," Wills said at the time.

"I think the minister should be fired for picking this site."

Former Yukon Party health minister Doug Graham defended the site at the time, saying the project was one of the things he was most proud of as a government minister.