Wall supports lay in the parking lot of Waterford Valley High
awaiting installation
When NLESD chief, Darrin
Pike, gave a tour on
September 3rd, 2015 to Premier Paul Davis, the cabinet, and community
members, the brand new $38 million Waterford Valley High School was not ready for occupancy.

But the 800
students of the school and their teachers were permitted to start classes anyway in early September. They could not have known a “cover-up” was underway.

contractor had failed to install steel wall supports which were part of the
structural steel package necessary to warrant a “sign-off” from the structural

The metal
braces are supposed to be bolted onto the classroom ceilings. The end of each rectangular
plate butts up against the cement block walls to support them. Each classroom
was supposed to have several of the braces installed as per the design

Though the contractor
neglected to install the structural supports, the School opened anyway.

No one
disclosed the problem to the public.

government Departments were involved in the decision: the NL Eastern School
District (NLESD), the Department of Education and Community Development (EECD) and
the Department directly responsible for the construction of the School, the
Department of Transportation and Works (TW).

Not one of
those authorities undertook to inform the public, or even the parents of the
800 students.

This is the
second time in as many months this blogger has exposed deception by those same
governmental authorities.

Gnarley Blog revealed, on August 31, 2015 the “cover-up” of a collapsed
concrete block wall at the Roncalli School Extension at Airport Heights.

On Monday,
October October 2, 2015, based on information obtained under Access to
Information legislation, known as ATTIP, a Blog post confirmed that the same
authorities kept the School open, despite being forced to close a fire exit for
fear the communicating wall might also collapse.

An almost
complete failure to perform inspections on the contractor’s work was a major
contributing cause of the structural problems experienced at the site of the
$20 million Roncalli School Extension.

At Waterford
Valley High School, welders work into the night; they can only start work when
classes are finished for the day.

The T-Bar
ceiling is removed and installation of the neglected structural work begins. The
job will require several more weeks before the school meets National Building
Code Standards.

structural steel, erected at the early stage of construction, has already been
sprayed with fireproofing insulation. 

The space above the ceiling tiles is full
of wires to hang the ceiling, plumbing, duct work and electrical wiring. The structural
supports, laying on a trailer in the School parking lot, must be lifted
individually and navigated through the maze and fire proofing insulation, some
of which is removed before the missing supports can be installed.

school starts each morning, everything must be cleaned up and the ceiling tiles
put back in place. Presumably someone will have to go back in later and apply fire
proofing to the newly installed supports.

Cover-up and
deception appears to be a recurring theme of this Government. Not just
politicians, but senior public servants, too, seem to have embraced the

There will
have to be a public accounting by all.

While the
800 students, and their parents, waited a long time for the Bishop’s
College-Booth Memorial replacement, no parent wants their child attending a
school unsafe because structural elements of the building are missing.

As it
stands, Waterford Valley High School is not ready for occupancy.

The school should
not have opened.

The public should
demand answers. 

Those guilty of engaging in this “cover-up” must be held to


Recent Posts: “Cover-Up” at Roncalli School Expansion:



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?


  1. I am finding this difficult to believe. Please post more info as it becomes available and if there are any professional engineers (P.Eng.s) with structural expertise please chime in here. If this school has in fact been in use with structural deficiencies the information needs to be made public and all parents and employees need to be informed. The inquiry we will leave to later, right safety is paramount.

    John D Pippy

    • I posted the first reply, being an engineer , but not a structural engineer. Wind forces is something I have encountered over 40 years of projects. For a recent job, we had to get a Quebec engineer to certify compliance of structural suitability for a building component that in the past had little oversight. I sought a Nfld engineer for that but had trouble to find one.

  2. AMEC FOSTER was the designer, but wasn't paid to manage the project. TW also hired Catalyst Consulting, MHPM project managers and Vigilant Management. Marco constructed it. I very much doubt that the "engineer of record" that signed off on opening the school was the designer of the structure.

  3. It certainly does appear that kids safety is not important. And like the rejection to construct a pedway across the topsail road intersection, I guess we'll have to wait for a tragedy before something is done.