Recent History – 2001
April 3, 2001
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
“$2 million down. $1.9 million to go!”
That was Mayor Blair Lekstrom’s take on the latest development in the city’s quest to get Zurich Insurance to cover the cost of the January 1997 collapse of the Memorial Arena roof.
City lawyer Gary Higson presented Lekstrom with a cheque for $2 million Monday — an “up front” payment from Zurich Insurance that amounts to about half the $3.9 million the city is seeking.
“This day has been a long time coming for the community, but the patience of the citizens of Dawson Creek has finally been rewarded,” Lekstrom said in a press release.
“Although $2 million represents only about half of what we feel is owed to our taxpayers, Zurich Insurance has finally acknowledged that they are responsible for the costs of replacing the Memorial Arena.”
The city will continue to seek the remainder of the amount detailed in a proof of loss submitted to Zurich in November.
“Getting to this point has been a long and frustrating process and we intend to continue until the full claim has been paid,” Lekstrom said.
Meanwhile, plans are close to final for how that $2 million will be spent. Lekstrom said he hopes to see a list released later this week of capital projects that had to be deferred because of Zurich’s foot-dragging.
“Four years has come and gone, and it’s money that probably would already have been spent if Zurich had lived up to its obligations,” he said.
Lekstrom added that once legal costs and interest are added on, Zurich should end up owing the city $4.3 million.
Specifically why Zurich has agreed to paying just $2 million, Lekstrom could not say. “They will not break it down,” Lekstrom said when asked exactly what items Zurich is holding in dispute.
The pay-out comes slightly more than four months after Zurich ran out of legal options with a dismissal by the Supreme Court of Canada of a leave to appeal.
The ruling ended a year-and-a-half legal battle in which Zurich disputed the city’s claim that the insurance company should cover the cost of the collapse, which occurred Jan. 8, 1997.