Things have gone from bad to worse for Ottawa construction company Highbridge Construction.

On Wednesday, the Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA) announced that it has frozen the company’s assets and suspended its licence pending an ongoing investigation.

In a news release, the HCRA confirms that Highbridge has been cited for “abruptly ceasing operations while it had at least five ongoing new home construction projects underway.” The regulator also states that it is “particularly concerned that deposit money was taken from purchasers as part of these projects but was not returned as the company claimed insolvency.”

The release goes on to say that the HCRA requested records and responses to inquiries relating to the status and location of deposit funds, but that Highbridge failed to comply. As a result, an Immediate Compliance Order has been issued, in combination with a licence suspension and freeze order, under which the company is required to hold all assets and funds.

Notice of the investigation follows reports by CTV News that the general contracting company -- also licensed as a new home builder -- received a notice of distress just last week, saying that the company owes the landlord more than $106,000 in rent. The notice was posted on the door of Highbridge's storefront on St. Joseph Boulevard.

“A licensed home builder is expected to be financially responsible,” says Wendy Moir, the HCRA’s Chief Executive Officer and Registrar. “We are determined to find out what happened, and especially what happened to the purchasers’ deposit funds. Highbridge Construction claims that the money is gone but will not provide the HCRA with any documentation to back up those claims.”

Moir adds, “These are extraordinary remedies, but we will do everything possible to protect consumers from unethical conduct by builders and vendors."

In light of these events, the HCRA is asking anyone who has engaged in a financial transaction with Highbridge Construction or anyone associated with the company to contact the HCRA immediately.

The HCRA has been busy as of late. Just last week, the regulator announced that it had revoked Albion Building Consultant Inc’s building license, citing a “history of non-compliance with provincial rules and laws.” As a result, the Toronto-based developer is barred from building and selling homes in Ontario.

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