Canadian Lawyer InHouse

April/May 2021

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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Page 31 of 43

30 FEATURE WHILE SOME PROJECTS were deferred or even cancelled as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, many infrastructure projects continued through the pandemic-induced shutdowns, with a range of new safety protocols in place, so industry players have been cautiously navigating the new landscape in uncertain times. In response to an ongoing infrastructure deficit, the federal government has announced a significant investment in transit infrastructure across Canada over the next number of years, offering cause for optimism for the future of the industry. Pivoting to adapt to a rapidly changing environment has been one of the major challenges facing developers throughout the past year, particularly given evolving health and safety protocols. "COVID has been a key challenge faced by Navigating the evolving landscape of infrastructure development In-house counsel are cautiously optimistic for the future of the industry amid government investment plans contractors of all sizes and in all sectors," says Sharon Vogel, a partner at Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel LLP. "Everyone has been affected by having to introduce new measures on construction sites in compliance with Ministry of Labour guidelines and public health advice." Other significant challenges for contractors include changes in contract models and dealing with legislative change, Vogel says. "The implications of COVID have been a big focus for us, with everything from staying on top of changes to health and safety regula- tions, to really being nimble and dealing with a very dynamic and evolving situation," says Andrés Durán, senior vice president, legal services at EllisDon Group. Managing the construction of tower projects has been the biggest challenge, Durán says, due to capacity restrictions in elevators during the pandemic. "Some of these projects have hundreds of people on site every day," says Durán. "When you have elevators that normally have a capacity of 24 but social distancing reduces it to four or six, that has a big impact on how much work you can get done in a day." For Andrew Wallace, general counsel at PCL Construction Inc., the primary issue has been finding the appropriate risk-sharing model between general contractor and owner or between general contractor and other project participants across a suite of contracting models. "Different projects faced different impacts and that's necessitated a project-by-project evaluation of how we manage it," says Wallace. "The task for managing these issues has been one of flexibility and adapting to the circum- stances that applied to the particular project." The availability of insurance products will be another major issue for contractors in 2021, Wallace predicts. "In 2020, COVID forced us all to adapt quickly to circumstances that we had not previously imagined and, as a result, we found ourselves operating in zones of legal uncer- tainty and without precedents," says Wallace. "We could still have a few more COVID wild cards ahead of us." "COVID forced us all to adapt quickly to circumstances that we had not previously imagined and, as a result, we found ourselves operating in zones of legal uncertainty and without precedents." Andrew Wallace, PCL Construction Inc.

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