Coquitlam leadership involved in legal battle between Metro Vancouver and wastewater contractor
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart and the city’s chief bureaucrat are at the center of the latest chapter in a multi-million dollar legal battle between Metro Vancouver and an international construction company.
Metro Vancouver has filed a lawsuit in the British Columbia Supreme Court against Acciona – a company fired from building a $500 million wastewater treatment plant.
In the filing, she requests Acciona to provide further information on how it obtained the regional government’s confidential legal opinion outlining the reason for terminating the contract before notifying Acciona of the termination.
In the filing, Metro Vancouver alleges that Acciona received the information from Anika Calder, the daughter of Coquitlam City Manager Peter Steblin, who was working for Acciona at the time the project ended.
The court filing alleges Steblin used Stewart’s password to access the confidential information, and Calder continued to take photos of the Metro Vancouver report on her cell phone, then gave the photos to several Acciona employees.
None of the allegations have been proven in court, where Acciona and Metro Vancouver have been engaged in litigation for several months and Acciona has yet to file a response.
The City of Coquitlam said it would not comment on the situation in court, although it said Steblin had announced his intention to retire in the New Year.
Metro Vancouver’s lawsuit concerns both the alleged leak of confidential information and its relation to the timing of the ongoing dispute with Acciona.
Metro Vancouver canceled Acciona’s contract for the treatment plant in January 2022, arguing that a project that cost $700 million and was due to be completed by 2020 was years behind schedule and with a budget of over $1 billion. dollar was confronted.
Prior to the termination of the contract, Metro Vancouver’s board of directors received information about the upcoming decision and the legal advice it had received through an employee report, which was only accessible through a confidential ID and password available to board members.
Between the Metro Vancouver board meeting and the termination, allegations are made that Steblin accessed the report using Stewart’s password and ID, and that his daughter subsequently photographed the report.
“Under no circumstances has Mr. Steblin been authorized by or on behalf of [Metro Vancouver] to disclose the confidential report of the closed session to any person, let alone his daughter as an Acciona employee,” Metro Vancouver chief administrative officer Jerry Dobrovolny wrote in a affidavit.
Metro Vancouver further alleges that Acciona only told it it had the leaked report in May 2022, two months after it filed a $250 million lawsuit against the regional government for wrongful termination in May.
Metro Vancouver then filed a $500 million countersuit.
The city manager said he didn’t know
The petition calls for an order to be issued that forces Acciona to disclose the names and contact details of everyone who received the alleged leak, information about how and when they obtained it, and allow a forensic expert to investigate whether other information has been leaked.
“To date, Acciona has not delivered [Metro Vancouver] with details of any internal investigations she conducted to determine the extent of the breach or the extent of other confidential information obtained by Ms Calder,” the petition reads.
Although he was re-elected mayor of Coquitlam in October, Stewart does not serve on Metro Vancouver’s board of directors.
Included in Metro Vancouver’s legal files were documents from a third-party investigation into the matter, in which Steblin allegedly said he was unaware his daughter took the photos.
It is unclear how long the Coquitlam council has known of the alleged information leak, nor the nature of confidential meetings to determine future steps.