Faced with
having to admit “cover-up” at Waterford Valley High, the Department of
Transportation and Works asked the contractor to accelerate installation of the
lateral steel supports which were overlooked during the construction of the

overtime, nearly $100.00 per hour, was the incentive for workers to work longer

Originally, Government
was prepared to continue to let the School operate until Christmas, even though
the building failed to meet National Building Code standards. The disclosure of this
second “cover-up”, the first occurred at Roncalli, caused the work to be rushed. As a result, the final lateral support was
installed at the end of last week.

This should
not be the end of the matter.

When this
Blog demanded that officials within the NL Eastern School District, and the
Ministries of Education and Transportation and Works, produce proof that a
structural engineer had “signed off” on the structural work, prior to opening
in September, senior bureaucrats stonewalled. They hoped the issue would go away.

When the
phones started to ring, following the Blog Post, a senior NLESD official
was forced to explain the problem.

Parroting Transportation
and Works officials, NLESD told them: “Inspections of our school identified
some walls requiring lateral supports;
these are partition walls between
” (Underline added).

Parents were
supposed to read the word “only” into the phrase “these are partition walls”.  The NLESD downplayed
the importance of the missing steel supports.

The NLESD spokesperson
did not tell parents that the concrete block walls weigh several tons; that the
purpose of the lateral supports is to prevented them tipping over; that the
construction is very similar to the wall that collapsed at Roncalli School.

The NLESD also
did not tell parents the failure rendered the school “NON-COMPLIANT” under the
National Building Code – and thus, unfit for occupancy.

contractor’s failure to complete all the steel structural elements left two
possibilities. Either:

a.         The certification by the structural
engineer was improperly issued; or
b.         No certificate was issued (i.e. that
officials unilaterally took a decision to open the school without any “sign

The comments
of the engineer who advised this Blogger bear repeating:

“There is no
grey here; either the walls conform to National Building Code standards or they
don’t….the Code is very precise; the structural members, including those
missing lateral supports, are required to accommodate all the loads which the
design engineer has calculated and on which he would have based the design
specifications. So, someone has made a decision to occupy a sub-standard structure.”

Related to this Post:

Waterford Valley High School: Another Cover-Up

Waterford Valley High: Release Certificate of Structural Engineer, Now!

and bureaucrats hope they have escaped rebuke and an admission of complicity.

They should
not get off so lightly.

Let’s be
clear about two matters:

First, when this
Blog issued a call for the immediate release of the Structural Engineer’s Certification on Friday, November 6, 2015  the demand
could have been met within 5 minutes. NLESD could have, and should have,
attached a copy of the Certification to the email it sent to the parents.

But the
Certification was not produced then, or since.

while no politician or senior bureaucrat should be excused, the behaviour of
NLESD must be singled out.

The general
public, parents especially, cannot tolerate officials who place their children
at risk.

embarrassment, convenience, stupidity, or cost are never paramount
considerations alongside public safety.

if the CEO of NLESD cannot provide proof of the structural integrity of
Waterford Valley High School, when the facility opened in September, he should
begin the parade of officials tendering their resignation. Those involved, in the
two government Departments, should follow.

This is a lapse
of judgment that cannot go unpunished.

need educators who have their back.
Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.


Bill left public life shortly after the signing of the Atlantic Accord and became a member of the Court of Appeal until his retirement in 2003. During his time on the court he was involved in a number of successful appeals which overturned wrongful convictions, for which he was recognized by Innocence Canada. Bill had a special place in his heart for the underdog.

Churchill Falls Explainer (Coles Notes version)

If CFLCo is required to maximize its profit, then CFLCo should sell its electricity to the highest bidder(s) on the most advantageous terms available.


This is the most important set of negotiations we have engaged in since the Atlantic Accord and Hibernia. Despite being a small jurisdiction we proved to be smart and nimble enough to negotiate good deals on both. They have stood the test of time and have resulted in billions of dollars in royalties and created an industry which represents over a quarter of our economy. Will we prove to be smart and nimble enough to do the same with the Upper Churchill?