A high-end home construction company that expanded rapidly into the West Vancouver and Sea-to-Sky market two years ago has filed for bankruptcy, leaving a lengthy list of suppliers, subcontractors and former employees owed almost $10 million.
Wakefield Construction Inc., which had an office in West Vancouver, as well as offices in Vancouver and Sechelt, filed for protection from creditors Jan. 9.
The company was declared bankrupt Jan. 20, leaving about 40 projects unfinished and some 450 creditors scrambling in its wake.
Many of those businesses and sub-contractors owed money are on the Sunshine Coast, where company president Lance Sparling founded Wakefield Construction in 2003.
But companies on the North Shore are owed over $634,000 and Bowen Island suppliers have been left in a lurch for about $400,000.
Electrical contractors, stonemasons, drywallers, landscapers and excavator operators are among the creditors listed in documents filed with Industry Canada.
On the North Shore, BA Blacktop is owed almost $125,000, Beere Timber is owed $112,000 and the Bowen Building Centre on Bowen Island is owed over $106,000.
Three separate Rona building supply stores in Madeira Park, Whistler and Squamish are collectively owed over $275,000.
But it will likely be the smaller local subcontractors who are hardest hit, said Ron Spurgeon of West Vancouver, who has been involved in the construction industry and briefly worked for Wakefield in the past.
“The plumber who is owed $30,000 — that’s where you’re going to get impacts. He’s the guy who is stuck,” he said.
About 100 employees are also owed money for their last paycheque.
Leagh Gabriel, executive director of the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, said she was surprised by the bankruptcy. But there were other suggestions the company had been dealing with problems for some time.
“The writing was on the wall to many people a year and a half ago,” said Spurgeon.
Five civil lawsuits were filed against Wakefield by subcontractors, other construction companies and a former employee between September 2014 and January 2015.
Speaking to Sunshine Coast reporter John Gleeson this week, Sparling said it was a “constellation of factors” that led to the business’ failure.
A spokesman for the bankruptcy trustee confirmed this week that additional claims, including $2 million from Sparling himself, have driven up the total amount originally claimed by creditors from about $6.5 million to almost $10 million.
Under bankruptcy law, the trustee will distribute the proceeds from assets to secured creditors first, with any amounts remaining paid out to the unsecured creditors on a proportionate or pro rata basis according to their claims.
With files from John Gleeson