British Columbia

TransLink wins appeal in long-running court battle over Canada Line impacts

Cambie Street business owners in a long-running legal fight with TransLink over impacts from Canada Line construction had a victory derailed Wednesday.

Canada Line 'pleased' with decision, business owner calls it 'disappointing and bad'

The Park Theatre, like other cinemas, has been closed by the coronavirus pandemic. But former operator Leonard Schein said it and other Cambie Street businesses were also hurt by Canada Line construction in the neighbourhood over a decade earlier. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Cambie Street business owners in a long-running legal fight with TransLink had a victory derailed Wednesday.

In 2018, three businesses were awarded over $180,000 in damages for disruption to their businesses caused by Canada Line construction along the busy Vancouver street.

But on Wednesday the B.C. Court of Appeal granted TransLink an appeal of that ruling.

The three judges ruled two-to-one that the B.C. Supreme Court judge made errors in calculating the damages owed.

TransLink, speaking on behalf of the Canada Line, applauded Wednesday's decision.

Canada Line construction tore up and blocked off long stretches of Cambie Street from 2007 to 2009. (CBC)

"Canada Line is pleased with this result and is hopeful that the parties can move toward a final resolution of all claims related to the construction of Canada Line," an emailed statement read.

"The Court of Appeal has clarified the proper test for the application of the law of nuisance in these circumstances, the law of limitation periods as well as the method of determining the value of land claims in this specific context."

New trials were ordered for the owners of the Park Theatre and Thai Away Home restaurant.

Leonard Schein of the Cambie Village Business Association, and former operator of the Park Theatre, seen in 2008. (CBC)

Festival Cinemas, owner of the theatre, won $128,880 in damages in 2018. Dale Dubberley, owner of the restaurant, had won $44,560.

Gary Gautam, owner of the Cambie General Store, won $7,600 in 2018. His case was thrown out Wednesday.

Businesses consider next steps

Leonard Schein is the former operator of the Park Theatre and principal of Festival Cinemas. He currently serves as a director of the Cambie Village Business Association.

Speaking Thursday, he said the construction forced closures of 39 businesses from 2nd Avenue to 25th Avenue that couldn't pay their leases. Other businesses lost money or couldn't afford to renew their leases.

"I think it's a disappointing and bad decision made [by] those two judges," Schein said. "It's another blow against small, neighbourhood, local businesses."

Construction of the Canada Line ran from 2005 to 2008, with months of road repair after its completion.

The construction of the tunnel underneath Cambie Street blocked traffic through the Cambie Village shopping area.

Schein said merchants were first told the work would be done underground through a "bored tunnel" method. 

Instead, the builders opted for a cheaper "cut and cover" method — but Schein said they promised they would tear up the street for only three months. It took 18 months instead.

Schein said the business owners are considering their next steps. They may seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Otherwise, he said, the businesses will start a sixth trial to pursue damages from Canada Line construction.

With files from Eric Rankin

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