Contractor follow-up: laborers claim they were left unpaid

By Adam Donnelly
March 24, 2017 - 5:00pm

KAMLOOPS — Last week we brought you the story of Jason McDowell, a local contractor who has taken advantage of several of his clients by accepting their money and leaving them high and dry.

McDowell took cash from several Kamloops residents who thought they were hiring a reputable contractor but, in many cases, McDowell either didn't finish the job, or didn't do the work properly.

While he hasn’t responded to accusations leveled by his former clients, it turns out there’s another side to the story.

The tradespeople and laborers that worked for McDowell have also been left out in the cold. Many have gone unpaid for their work.

WATCH: Full report by Adam Donnelly

Felisha Martin and he husband Spencer Yu allege Jason McDowell took over $50,000 from them to renovate their basement, and left the job unfinished.

“We did serve his with a letter requesting the return of … [around] $42,000,” Martin explained, in a follow-up interview today. “[Both] for materials he said he purchased, which obviously don’t exist, and also some of the salaries for some of the employees that he owes money to.”

During her investigation, Martin has been in contact with several of McDowell’s former employees, who say they’re owed thousands in unpaid wages for services rendered.

Rick Farr, of Rick’s Small Haul, claims McDowell owes him in the neighbourhood of $3000.

Bob Gibbons says he’s owed back wages of around $1800. “No hope in hell of ever getting [that money] back again,” Gibbons says.

“I phoned him, left messages, sent emails,” Erik Balcom, of All in One Contracting says. “I actually, at one point, went out to his residence.”

Brent Kelm says McDowell knowingly circumvented the rules, when doing renovation work. “At Felisha’s here, I pointed things out to him that I knew weren’t supposed to be done,” Kelm explained, adding “[I] was basically told to shut the hell up.”

Felisha and her husband Spencer called Rich Weare in to inspect McDowell’s work, to ensure everything was done up to code. When Weare saw some McDowell’s work, he says he called the Safety Authority immediately.

“I realized immediately that inspection needed to be involved,” Weare recounted.

Weare fixed the electrical issues, saying that several of the things he saw could have caused a fire, or electrocution.

“It gave me a sick feeling, really,” he says. “Knowing that people have trusted this guy.” Weare also added “What this person has done… he’s left a number of life-threatening issues, right down to the fact that there was a live wire, cut-off, just sticking outside on the cement.”

McDowell’s former employees and sub-contractors aren’t hopeful they’ll see any of the money they’’re owed, but they believe by speaking out, they can spread the word about their experience, so no one else - homeowner or worker - is exploited by Jason McDowell

“Hopefully he’ll never rip-off another person,” Rick Farr says.

Ken Gibbons says “I’m hoping to heck this [story] gets across BC… actually, all of Canada, and that people really check into the people they’re hiring.”

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