The William R. Bennett Bridge, linking Kelowna and West Kelowna across Okanagan Lake, was built by, and is currently maintained by, a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin. Seen here beside the former Okanagan Lake Floating Bridge (right) that it replaced on opening day in 2008. (Alistair Waters/Capital News)

SNC-Lavalin maintaining Kelowna bridge amidst controversy in Ottawa

The engineering company designed and maintains the WR Bennett Bridge over Okanagan Lake

The company at the centre of the scandal currently enveloping the federal government has a strong Kelowna connection.

SNC-Lavalin, a multi-national Canadian engineering company, designed, built and and now maintains the 11-year-old William Richards Bennett Bridge between Kelowna and West Kelowna, the only crossing of Okanagan Lake and a vital highway transportation link in the Okanagan.

The company, through it’s subsidiary Protrans WRB Bridge, won the 30-year contract from the province to to maintain the bridge after building the $144 million floating structure in 2008

The bridge is Canada’s only floating bridge, according to the company’s website.

SNC-Lavalin is at the centre of a controversy that lead to former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould quitting the federal cabinet after she was moved to veterans affairs last month. Wilson-Raybould claims, as justice minister, she was pressured by officials with the prime minister’s office and others in the government to intervene in ongoing criminal legal proceedings against the company stemming from its dealings in other countries, and to abandon prosecution in favour of a deferred prosecution agreement.

Wilson-Raybould is married to Tim Raybould, who was the chief negotiator for the Westbank First Nation when it negotiated its landmark self-government agreement with Ottawa in 2004.

Operation of the WR Bennett bridge is not directly connected to the company’s current problems in Ottawa.

READ MORE: Kelowna’s Bennett Bridge turns 10-years-old

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which awarded the contract to maintain the bridge and oversees it, said in a statement it cannot comment on any specific company, or any case before the courts.

READ MORE: Wilson-Raybould says she’s sticking with Liberals for 2019 vote

“In general, depending on the nature of convictions of a federal offence, the province could be in a position to place restrictions on a company from entering or moving forward in a procurement process,” the statement said.

In 2018, when the bridge celebrated its 10th anniversary, the ministry’s Okanagan-Shuswap district manager said the province was pleased with the performance of bridge and that the ministry had a positive working relationship with SNC-Lavalin.

READ MORE: Wilson-Raybould invited to testify at committee on SNC-Lavalin affair

READ MORE: MPs continue voting marathon as Tories protest shutdown of Wilson-Raybould motion

READ MORE: As MPs pull all-nighter, Philpott breathes fresh life into SNC-Lavalin scandal

An email has been sent to SNC-Lavalin for comment.

More to come.


edit@kelownacapnews.com

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