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Chilliwack city council defers motion to blacklist 'substandard' paving company

This wavy edge on Yale Road is one among many example Chilliwack city staff say represents shoddy work by Key-West Asphalt. - City of Chilliwack
This wavy edge on Yale Road is one among many example Chilliwack city staff say represents shoddy work by Key-West Asphalt.
— image credit: City of Chilliwack

A spokesperson for a paving company the City of Chilliwack is considering kicking off its bidders list for shoddy work told council Tuesday the company was "stunned" by the news.

City council voted four to two to send the matter back to staff to answer to the company's responses about alleged poor workmanship and safety.

Key-West Asphalt and its predecessor companies have won the annual road rehabilitation and shoulder paving contract through the city's bidding process six out of the last eight years. But "substandard" and "consistently poor product quality and safety concerns" led the city to consider blacklisting the company.

At its Dec. 6 meeting, city council was scheduled to vote on a staff recommendation to strike Key-West from the bidders list for a period of five years. At the last minute, the item was stricken from the agenda as the company requested a chance to speak to council. That happened at the Dec. 20 meeting. Acting as a spokesperson for Key-West, Gurneet Dhatt was present along with three senior members of the company, including Ranjeet Dhillon and Ricky Dhatt.

"We always do the best job possible," Gurneet Dhatt told city council at the start of Tuesday's afternoon meeting.

"If at any time the city staff has conveyed an issue, the company has fixed it as soon as possible."

A staff report presented to council included details of numerous quality and public issues as well as safety issues over all six years the company has had the contract.

From an illegal fire hydrant connection on Prest Road to gravel spilled into a field on Bailey Road to trespassing on Ashwell Road to insufficient traffic control, the list is long.

The staff report included 12 photos of poor quality workmanship done by the company.

Dhatt blamed a sub-contractor who was subsequently fired for one safety incident, and she said another incident of safety signs being knocked down were due to high-volume truck traffic near Industrial Way.

"We were stunned by this report," Dhatt said, adding that she came armed with a reference letter from the Corporation of Delta and resum├ęs of new senior managers for the company.

After Dhatt's presentation Tuesday, Coun. Jason Lum put forward a motion to send the item back to staff so they could respond to the company.

Coun. Sam Waddington spoke against that motion, arguing that the company has had ample opportunity over the years to respond to concerns.

"This isn't a single issue, this is an ongoing issue," he said.

In the end, council voted four to two in favour of sending the item back to staff, with Waddington and Coun. Ken Popove opposed.

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