British Columbia

Vancouver mayor testifies in Cambie merchant lawsuit

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson took the stand at B.C. Supreme Court on Monday to testify in a lawsuit brought by a Cambie Street merchant who said her business was crippled by construction in the area.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson took the stand at B.C. Supreme Court on Monday to testify in a lawsuit brought by a Cambie Street merchant who said her business was crippled by construction in the area.

Robertson, a former provincial MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, was a fervent supporter of merchants along Cambie Village and spoke out several times in the legislature about the hardships they faced during Canada Line rapid transit construction.

He dubbed the area a "war zone" and also presented a petition to the province, saying "it was impossible to get around when digging was at its height."

Susan Heyes, who owns the maternity wear store Hazel and Co., sued all three levels of government after she said she lost $900,000 and had to re-mortgage her home because construction halted sales in her shop.

During questioning, Robertson confirmed he accused the Liberal government of switching its construction method from a bored tunnel to the more invasive cut-and-cover technique.

Outside the courtroom, Robertson said that despite his past efforts, there was never any movement toward compensating merchants.

"Hopefully, there is some resolution that comes down the road here, but it doesn't seem like there's ever going to be a satisfactory outcome from this. It was just a sad chapter and hopefully, we do everything we can so that it never happens again."

West Broadway merchants watching case

Just 15 blocks away, on West Broadway, business owners are hoping that a 12-kilometre rapid transit line planned to link Commercial Drive station with the University of British Columbia will not similarly affect businesses in the area.

Donna Dobo of the West Broadway Business Association said she is trying to organize neighbouring business owners so that a similar mess can be prevented.          

"My biggest fear is that there will be any form of underground transit on West Broadway," said Dobo. "Tunneling is not a solution. That would create huge disruptions for business for up to three or four years." 

The association is watching the Heyes' civil suit closely, saying its outcome could shape future transportation projects.

It also plans to hold a meeting with Translink in the coming weeks to express its concern over the transit project.

now