Calgary

Developer sues Calgary for $113M, alleging city obstructed plan to build condos on former golf course

The company hoping to redevelop the former golf course of Highland Park is suing the City of Calgary for $113 million, alleging it hasn't acted in good faith and rendered the land unusable for redevelopment.

None of the allegations have yet been proven in court

A rendering shows a plan for the redevelopment of the former golf course in Calgary's Highland Park. The developer is now suing the city, alleging it delayed the development in order to continue using the land as green space. (reimagining.ca)

The company hoping to redevelop the former golf course of Highland Park is suing the City of Calgary for $113 million, alleging it hasn't acted in good faith and rendered the land unusable for redevelopment.

Highland Park golf course was listed for sale in 2012. The following year, a corporation related to Highland Park Developments, Vancouver-based Maple Ventures Inc., entered into an agreement to buy the land. 

City council approved rezoning for the mixed-use development in 2017, which would have seen the former northwest Calgary golf course transformed into 2,000 residential units as well as office space. 

But the developer alleges that the city failed to disclose information about the land, including its history, use for stormwater drainage and concerns some land may not be developable — information that the developer states if it had known, it wouldn't have proceeded. 

The developer also alleges the city had an ulterior motive — saying it delayed the development so the city itself could take over the property and use it as green space.

City is reviewing lawsuit

None of the allegations presented in the statement of claim have yet been proven in court. The City of Calgary said it has received the statement of claim, and is reviewing it. A statement of defence has yet to be filed. 

The developer is arguing it suffered the following damages:

  • $38 million due to decreased land value.
  • $75 million in lost or delayed profits.
  • $20 million in thrown-away investments.
  • $75 million in lost returns on invested capital.
  • Further damages due to lost compensation it says it would have been entitled to based on an expropriation under the Expropriation Act

The statement also argues the developer is entitled to restitution, as it argues the city continues to be "unjustly enriched" by the land.

The land, which is bordered by Fourth Street N.W. on the west and McKnight Boulevard to the north, is near where the city plans to build an LRT station once the north-central leg of the Green Line is built. It was used as a golf course for nearly half a century, and an underground creek runs through the space.

The statement of claim says that in the years leading up to city council's public hearing and eventual decision on the project, the city provided "misleading, inaccurate or inconsistent" information about stormwater drainage on the site. 

At a public hearing, city administration said it recommended approving the development and that a city study would assess any regional drainage issues and known flooding problems.

In an interview at the time, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he shared residents concerns about groundwater flooding and that while the city is responsible for water drainage, if the development made the problem worse the developer would be on the hook for improvements. 

After that approval, the developer argued the city delayed its ability to move forward, rejecting a revised plan for the site the developer says it completed voluntarily.

It also says the city continued to use the land as a de facto stormwater storage facility and green space with no attempt to legally acquire the land or allow the developer to move forward. 

Residents had expressed concerns about developing the site, fearing paving portions of the site could make area flooding worse. 

In 2018, a drainage study released by the city found the most viable option to deal with the drainage issues would be the construction of two ponds — not twinning the storm duct that runs through it like the developer expected. 

With files from Scott Dippel

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now