Mike Holmes' group of companies sues Winnipeg developer over Fort Rouge Yards

A group of companies run by TV personality Mike Holmes has gone to court to obtain $234,000 from the Winnipeg firm developing the Fort Rouge Yards.

Holmes Group was hired by Gem Equities in 2013 to consult on townhomes near Southwest Transitway

The Holmes Group, a conglomerate of companies owned by contractor and TV personality Mike Holmes, has filed a $234,000 statement of claim against Winnipeg developer Gem Equities.

A group of companies run by TV personality Mike Holmes has gone to court to obtain $234,000 from the Winnipeg firm developing the Fort Rouge Yards.

The Holmes Group, a conglomerate of companies belonging to professional contractor and Holmes On Homes star Mike Holmes, filed a statement of claim before Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench on May 30.

The suit alleges developer Gem Equities failed to compensate Holmes for services conducted for a residential development at the Fort Rouge Yards, an infill development west of the Lord Roberts neighbourhood, alongside the first phase of the Southwest Transitway.

In the statement of claim, the Holmes Group said it was retained in 2013 to work on a development called the Yards at Fort Rouge.

"We're working with the land and building homes that make sense, for homeowners and the environment," the Holmes Group stated in a press release about the Yards at Fort Rouge in 2013. It described the project as "energy efficient townhomes within a walkable community that has access to existing neighbourhood amenities, including rapid transit, bike paths and green spaces."

In its statement of claim, the Holmes Group said it provided design, consultation and inspection services until Nov. 1, 2016. The Holmes Group claims it billed Gem Equities for $102,000 and placed a lien against the property when it was not paid.

"My client was hired to provide very specific services," said Richard Beamish, Winnipeg legal counsel for the Holmes Group. "They were not involved in a joint venture."

The Holmes Group is seeking $234,000 for payment, damages, interest and legal costs, according to the statement of claim. ​

The allegations have not been proven in court and no statement of defence has yet been filed. Gem Equities owner Andrew Marquess has not yet responded to requests for comment.

Marquess has been trying to transform the Fort Rouge Yards since 2009 into a 900-unit residential development featuring a mix of townhouses, mid-rise apartments and highrises.

Gem Equities received council approval for its plan in 2010. It started marketing units in what used to be known as the Yards at Fort Rouge in 2013.

Workers are putting the finishing touches on the Jubilee Winnipeg condo project at the south end of the Fort Rouge Yards. (Bartley Kives/CBC)
In 2016, Gem Equities' lender, First National Financial, hired Winnipeg developer Sunstone to complete the first 40 units at the site and rebrand the project as Jubilee Winnipeg, after Jubilee Station — the southernmost of four stops along the Southwest Transitway.

Some of the Jubilee Winnipeg units will be finished later this month and the rest will be finished in early July, said Sunstone chief executive officer Bill Coady.

The development of the Fort Rouge Yards is of strategic importance to the City of Winnipeg, which is relying on development along the Southwest Transitway to increase residential density.

The highlighted area shows the location of the Jubilee Winnipeg project. (CBC News)
Another developer, ​Streetside Developments, has completed 87 condo units next to the Fort Rouge Station on the Southwest Transitway. Forty of those units are townhouse-style condos in a development called Parkline. Another 47 apartment-style condos are completed in what's been dubbed the Metro development.

Streetside has also poured the foundation for another 10 Parkline units, said Rhonda Funke of Rancho Realty.

Gem Equities has a long-term plan to develop the long swath of land between the Streetside projects and Jubilee Winnipeg.

About the Author

Bartley Kives

Reporter, CBC Manitoba

Reporter Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba. His work has also appeared in publications such as the Guardian and Explore magazine.