Delays, liens and disputes: Inside the messy renovation of a police division headquarters

A multi-million-dollar renovation project at a downtown police building was marred by years of delays and disputes that included a contractor and several companies placing liens against the Toronto Police Service property.

The major renovation of the service’s 52 Division headquarters near Dundas Street West and University Avenue, began in October 2015 and was recently completed.

The project included “the complete renovation of architectural, mechanical, electrical, communication, audio visual, security, and structural scopes of work.”

Details of the complicated and contentious project are included in a report from Chief Mark Saunders’s office that will be presented to the Toronto Police Services Board on Wednesday.

According to the report, general contractor DPI Construction Management failed to provide adequately trained workers and supervisors to the job site, resulting in delays and an “ongoing turnover of resources.”

The workers were “lacking the required skill set” to complete the project, the report says.

 It notes that the project included several complexities, including the need to keep the station open 24 hours a day, the discovery of asbestos, and a delayed start due to issues within the force’s facilities department.

DPI Construction Management declined an interview with CBC Toronto about the renovation.

During the course of the work, records show that six separate construction liens were placed on the property by 13 construction and investment companies.

A construction lien is a claim made against a property by a firm in order to ensure it is reimbursed for its work.

Records suggest they are the only liens placed on the property since it was transferred to Toronto police in 1974.

Toronto police were not available to say how often liens have been applied to the service’s properties.

Final construction cost below original estimate

The lien by DPI was applied in July 2017 and resolved in November 2018 with assistance from the City of Toronto’s legal department. During the course of the legal dispute, the project’s “health status” was downgraded from green to yellow.

“These challenges resulted in delayed project completion and the engagement of City Legal to resolve a dispute with the general contractor regarding acceptance of work standards and the resolution of outstanding deficiency items,” the report concludes.

Despite the challenges and delays, the final cost of the project was $9.17 million, slightly below the original $9.27 million estimate.

The renovation is now complete, however the Toronto Police Service is still making final payments to the general contractor.

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