A Spanish company that’s being sued by Metro Vancouver over the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant project wants to cross-examine the regional agency’s commissioner and CAO about a letter from Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart.
In January, Stewart penned a letter through a lawyer to dispute comments made by Metro commissioner and CAO Jerry Dobrovolny in a December affidavit about leaked confidential information concerning Acciona’s termination on the project last year.
In his letter, Acciona states in its notice of application filed Wednesday, Stewart wrote that he “is concerned that the materials [i.e., Mr. Dobrovolny’s first affidavit] do not accurately set out certain key events in this matter” and that “most of the information that he provided [to Metro] was withheld from Acciona” in discussions.
Acciona’s notice of application to cross-examine Dobrovolny, which is expected to be heard at the Vancouver Law Courts on March 28, comes after Dobrovolny filed a second affidavit on Monday to “clarify” his December evidence.
Acciona’s scheduled application also comes a week before an injunction hearing — slated for April 5 and 6 in Vancouver — in which Metro is petitioning the court to preserve evidence on Acciona’s computer systems pertaining to an alleged breach of confidentially by Coquitlam's former city manager Peter Steblin and his daughter.
The complex legal matter refers to an incident stemming from January 2022 involving Steblin’s daughter, Anika Calder, then an Acciona employee, and portions of a document — titled Closed Meeting Report — about Acciona’s upcoming termination from the multi-million dollar project (in a separate legal case, Acciona is suing Metro for $250 million for wrongful termination while Metro is counter-suing the company for failing to deliver the project on time and on budget).
In his December affidavit, Dobrovolny stated that Acciona revealed to Metro in May 2022 that it had images of certain pages of the Closed Meeting Report — alleged to have been taken by Calder from her father’s city laptop; Steblin used Stewart’s Metro log-in credentials to access the restricted document, Dobrovolny claimed.
Between May and September 2022, Acciona and Metro discussed the leak; however, on Dec. 16 and “without warning” to Acciona, the company said, Metro filed an injunction application to preserve the evidence and have a forensic investigator look at Acciona’s computer systems to see how far the Closed Meeting Report circulated.
That injunction application included Dobrovolny’s affidavit, which states that neither he nor the Metro board authorized the disclosure of the Close Meeting Report.
In January, according to Acciona’s notice of application, Stewart wrote to both Metro and Acciona citing disagreements with Dobrovolny’s affidavit, claiming it’s a “common” and “longstanding” practice by Metro board members to provide their log-in credentials to their senior municipal staff to gain confidential information.
Acciona claims that Stewart’s letter implied Dobrovolny knew Metro directors regularly shared log-in credentials and that Metro even helped the City of Coquitlam staff in the past to access the Metro web portal — using Stewart’s ID and password.
“The substance of Mayor Stewart’s letter is that the Closed Meeting Report was circulated far more widely than suggested by Mr. Dobrovolny’s evidence,” Acciona stated in its notice of application on March 15, 2023.
Its bid to cross-examine Metro’s CEO gives weight to the April injunction application hearing, Acciona states, in bringing forward, among other things, the:
- breadth of the Closed Meeting Report’s circulation
- ease that non-Metro board members can obtain privileged information
- extent Metro “placed misleading affidavit evidence before the court”
“On each of these issues… Mr. Dobrovolny’s evidence conflicts with the letter from Mayor Stewart,” the notice of application states.
It adds later, “To the extent that Mr. Dobrovolny is found to have given incomplete, unsupportable or misleading evidence, the relief sought by GVS&DD [Metro] may be refused on the doctrine of unclean hands. Cross-examination will assist the court in assessing this issue.”
And “… Even if the unclean hands doctrine does not strictly apply (and Acciona will submit at the injunction application that it does), the state of Mr Dobrovolny’s evidence (as shown by Mayor Stewart’s statements and as further to be revealed in cross-examination) will affect the court’s decision whether to grant injunctive relief.”
Stewart did not immediately return the Tri-City News’ call for comment.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.