UPDATE: "Tens of millions" allegedly wasted in Union Station project

Source accuses the City of Toronto of being "reckless" with taxpayers dollars.

Conceptual art shows part of the planned renovations at Union Station.
Photo: Contributed

A new report in the Globe and Mail suggests that tens of millions of dollars have been wasted on the renovation of Union Station, and there is question whether part of the project will be complete in time for the Pan Am Games.

The Globe obtained documents through freedom-of-information requests and interviews with unnamed sources.

City officials have insisted the renovation is on time and on budget but the crews are working with no approved timeline for specific work to be completed.

The newspaper cites one source as saying that because there's no timeline for specific work, there have been situations where one crew would build a wall, another crew would need to do work behind that wall after it was put up, so they'd have to tear it down and later rebuild it.

Another source accuses the city of Toronto of being "reckless" with taxpayer dollars.

The problem seems to be the lack of a working schedule. In the past, there have been reports of problems between the city and the company managing the project, Carillion Construction.

City officials are to review the contract with the company later this year and whether Carillion should continue managing the project once the first phase is complete.

Speaking with reporters at city hall Monday, deputy mayor Norm Kelly says he has had discussions with city staff about the problems that have come up.

"They're aware of the situation and how it's being perceived, and they're going to do their very best to do the appropriate corrections," he says.

Kelly adds that this has been a "wake-up call."

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the public works committee, says that if Carillion can't provide proper answers on the schedule and costs, city staff should strongly consider what the options are moving forward, in terms of management.

The Union Station job was approved five years ago with a budget of $640 million. The latest estimates make it an $800-million-dollar job, and counting.

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  1. Frankie posted on 05/26/2014 10:16 AM
    This is exactly why the city should have professionals to negotiate and oversee these types of contracts. City workers don't give a damn about taxpayers money and they're not accountable to anyone.

    If this happened in a private project there'd be firings and a lot of repercussions. In the public sector it's just another day; no big deal.

    This is all part of the gravy train Ford referred to. Too bad we don't have anyone else running on a platform of respecting the hard work of all taxpayers.
    1. JC posted on 05/26/2014 03:14 PM
      @Frankie sure you do! you have Rob Ford still in the race officially running on the same bullsht lines you mention in your last paragraph.
      In other words what we don't need is idiots with bullsht lines anymore.
      we just need professionals calling the shots and not politicians.
      Minnan Wong has to take a lot of the heat. he's chair of the public works committee.
    2. Karl Burgin posted on 05/26/2014 03:29 PM
    3. tanjo posted on 05/26/2014 04:44 PM
      @Frankie Quite the opposite Frankie. This is exactly how dealing with a external company works. It has very little to do with whether one party is public or not. I have had experience with private-private relationships where we have contracted out work. Same problems. Confusion, deadlines not met. And, it is actually very difficult to just pick up and move to someone else.

      Firings and repurcussions can happen when you are dealing with small companies on small projects, but not with huge projects on the scale of Union Station.

      Now, if it was city employees doing the work, there would be no construction money wasted ... mainly because they would still be at the navel-gazing stage and wouldn't have started work yet at all.

      Finally (and I do point out that you brought *him* into it, not me). Ford does not respect taxpayers. He just like to whine.
  2. Vince posted on 05/26/2014 10:27 AM
    I've worked for Rogers, Shoppers Drug Mart, CIBC, and Scotiabank. Projects that were worth millions of dollars went millions of dollars over budget. Regularly. Happens on pretty much everyone. No one got fired.

    If you want to make the argument that there should be better oversight/communication and that the private contractors brought in to do these jobs should be held to stricter account, that's fine. I agree 100%. But the claim that this only happens in government is bogus and plainly inaccurate.
  3. john posted on 05/26/2014 11:28 AM
    this is no surprise thats how stuff works if u watch home renovation shows u would know that most renovations go over budget . due to problems . stuff broken do to shipment problems ETC .
  4. ToddK_2 posted on 05/26/2014 11:32 AM
    Wow you made me laugh out loud. This is a disaster, it's going to be 400 million over budget when it's all said and done. The most incompetent and useless people end up working in Government where there is no accountability, just self interest. Give your head a shake.
  5. Istan posted on 05/26/2014 02:59 PM
    One aspect that is unknown to many torontonians is that Carillion is a multinational firm based out of the UK. In 2008 they bought Vanbots (a very reputable GTA Constructor with projects such as the ROM renovation and Sunnybrook vertical expansion in their portfolio). In 2011 - 2012, after a shaky first few years, the marriage went bad and the vast majority of tenured project managers, superintendents and executives left the company due to disagreements with the new management style and direction of the company (away from construction and towards PPP facility management).

    The Carillion Canada managers that bid and began the revitalzation project have for the most part left for other firms or taken early retirement. Because these were highly respected individuals in Toronto's construction community, and because Carrillion approaches recruitment, compensation of employees, and payment of suppliers much differently than Vanbots, they have not been able to hire the same caliber of people.
  6. Walter posted on 05/26/2014 05:01 PM
    Maybe large projects like this should be run by the Province and not the City. It would be nice if someone proposed that the subway system be uploaded to the Province. Wait, didn't Hudak promise that.
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