Saturday, April 26, 2008

Compensation for Cambie Street merchants demanded of Premier Campbell before new transit projects proceed

My friend Susan Heyes, the indefatiguable woman who is leading the fight for compensation for merchants on Cambie Street who have been crushed by Canada Line construction for three years, and the owner/designer at Hazel & Co. clothing store, passed on this eloquent letter to Premier Gordon Campbell.

PHOTO CREDIT: Stephen Rees - with thanks.

It's from Jillian Skeet, a community activist living in the Cambie areas who has been very supportive of the merchants' cause since the RAV Line to the airport began, and I am happy to pass it on to you, and urge you to also support their just claims for compensation.

* * * * *

Jillian Skeet

April 23rd, 2008

Premier Gordon Campbell

Legislative Buildings,Victoria, BC

Dear Premier Campbell,

As a Cambie resident, I have both experienced and witnessed the pain all along Cambie Street as a result of Canada Line construction.

I have spentmost of my life fighting against injustice in other parts of the world, butI never thought I would witness so much injustice on my own doorstep in Canada.

I have watched for two and a half years as businesses have died a slow and painful death.

Our corner store at Cambie and Marine stopped sellingnewspapers within months of construction commencing. Then they stoppedselling milk because it was going sour before it was purchased. Then they stopped restocking their shelves because they couldn’t earn enough to cover their lease.

For the last three weeks or so, they’ve stopped opening at all.

The owners are an immigrant family that was trying to make a go of it in Canada. While one family member worked long hours alone in the store, two other family members took on extra work elsewhere to try to keep the store afloat.

The corner store is next to an insurance company that after two years of sending out notices offering to come to their customers because it was so impossible for their customers to get to them, has now moved.

Next to them was a Sushi restaurant owned by another immigrant family. They made the ill-fated decision to open a new business on Cambie just before the decision to proceed with the RAV Line was announced.

They were just getting established when the road was torn up in front of them and all access routes were blocked. They struggled for months before going bankrupt.

The story is the same up and down Cambie. These are not just businesses – they are livelihoods and lives.

The stress and pain that has been caused by the cut and cover construction has affected not just businesses or business owners, it has hurt entire families – some of whom may never recover.

At least one business owner who was under financial stress had a heart attack and died – and another has publicly admitted to contemplating suicide.

I simply cannot believe the callousness of your government in turning its back on these small business owners and their families.

I personally feel great shame at the way in which they’ve been discarded by your government. I’ve heard all the arguments about businesses coming and going and short term pain for long-term gain, but none of this applies to the Cambie corridor.

What has happened along Cambie is beyond devastating. There is no long-term gain for the many businesses that have lost everything and disappeared, or for those on the verge of losing everything.

I’ve also heard you and your ministers insist that the Canada Line is not your project, that you are just one of the funders. I’m sorry but the factsshow otherwise.

There would be no Canada Line if you had not interceded and forced city councillors to vote and revote the issue.

As a funder of the project, your government bears responsibility for it. It simply defies logic to argue otherwise – government responsibility goes with the money.

I note that while various levels of government have admitted that serious mistakes were made along Cambie, they only do so to reassure other communities that the Cambie mistakes will not be repeated.

It’s well past time your government admitted that grievous errors were made in the handling of the Canada Line construction, and you set about trying to remedy the financial damage and consequent stress by fully compensating small businesses and others for their losses.

You might also consider providing a letter of responsibility that these business can use to try to restore their credit ratings and their relationships with their suppliers and other businesses with whom they have dealings.

There should also be a commitment from your government that if future projects cannot be undertaken without serious damage to businesses and residents, then compensation must be built into the budget.

If that makes the project too expensive, then the project should be altered or shelved.

Premier Campbell, all the flower baskets and banners in the world cannot heal the terminal wounds down the Cambie corridor. Businesses are continuing to die a slow and painful death with each and every passing day,while families are being torn apart by extreme stress.

This situation mustbe remedied immediately. This is a crisis.

I look forward to your prompt and compassionate response.

Sincere regards,

Jillian Skeet

cc. media, all MLAs , MP's, TransLink Board,Vancouver Mayor and Council , citizens


Anonymous said...

Bill, frankly I sympathize with these merchants... but OTOH, what about the merchants along Cambie Street from 41st Ave. southward?

What about the merchants along the Canada Line in downtown Vancouver?

What about the merchants along No. 3 Road in Richmond?

What about the merchants along the Millenium Line built under the New Democrats?

What about the merchants along the Expo Line built under the Socreds?

What about the merchants along roads in the City of Vancouver that are ripped up for sewer and water upgrades for an extended period of time?

They haven't received any compensation and therefore I can understand why there hasn't been compensation for north Cambie merchants (25th Ave. northward).

Isn't the reason behind the historical lack of compensation on any of these matters due to the fact that a precedent will be set?

Anonymous said...

sad and ruthless, I feel your pain cambie merchants. the campbell goverment has also terrorized seriously injured people, worksafe bc has made billions of dollars since 2002--the same year I was permantly disabled in a work accident, I have lost everything I own trying to fight worksafe! canada disability has deemed me disabled since my accident,but worksafe bc won`t recognize that. 2002 there was about 700 pensions from worksafe granted---2003 none 2004 none 2005 none 2006 39were granted --can someone please tell me why with more people working and more people being injured and dying that the pensions have dropped to almost zero? worksafe bc has a surplus of 11.2 billion dollars . if someone needs a stitch or a splint they get paid but if your mangled for life you get nothing! deny delay defend thats all they do--when is somebody going to help us disabled--worksafe bc won`t pay any legal fees for disabled workers, but you need to be a lawyer to fight them!I have had over 25 appeals, even when I win one all worksafe bc does is send it back to my case manager tweak the decision and start all over again. is the 11.2 billion surplus going to be used on olympics!

Stephen Rees said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Tieleman said...

My apologies to Stephen Rees for an inadvertent lack of credit for his photo use in this Cambie Street posting. Stephen has long supported the Cambie merchants as well.

Anonymous said...

It was so obvious that the Sky Train should have been built along the unused Arbutus train line. That could have run under False Creek at the Granville Bridge, instead of the current Cambie route. There would have been only limited business interruptions, and mostly above ground traffic. Much less cement and rebar would have been used. As for Fraser, Main, and Cambie traffic, a bridge off Main to Richmond will have had to be built at some time. Remnants of the old Main bridge still stand at Mitchell Island. Point the finger at election time.

This is off-topic, but I scanned major sections of the Crown Counsel Policy Manual (2005; revised 2007). The AG should put it online. I include no comment in the following; just the Policy as it is (cut and paste and click "free" option on this file share link, 6MB):

Anonymous said...

All of this illustrates "our" incompetence in BC at planning. Since 2002 "we" have had Grand Plans with little thinking ... all in the name of 2010.

The Great Corporate Helmsman Campbell is operating like some 1950s Communist leader obsessed with Mega Projects and Five Year Plans. It will be interesting to see how many bear his name in the end.

But as bad as all this is, you wait until the Hwy 99 to the US border mess hits in 2010. Then we are going to see a world-class traffic jam running from West Vancouver to Blaine Washington.

BC is in over its head and "we" are going to be paying for the Great 2010 Gordon Campbell Memorial Year for many decades.


Anonymous said...

anonymous 7.28 -----the diffrence here is they were lied to about cut and cover, I was in the lower mainland for all those projects and business was no way affected for that length of time (they weren`t cut and cover) there is no comparison! and its bullshit to say its translink not the goverment----also I haven`t seen it mentioned here but----translink gave the musqueam indian band hundreds of thousands of dollars for interuptions to their sockeye fishery because of the sky bridge over the river-----and as a long time sport fisherman,what a load of hooey----they could fish on either side of the bridge for fish!------I guess only taxpayers get screwed!-----oh my the poor starving musqueam band!

Budd Campbell said...

Bill, whatever you do, don't worry about being corrected or reprimanded by Stephen Rees. He's the most hypersenstive blogger around, ... with the one possible exception of Terry Glavin.

BC Mary said...

To Anon 12:56,

Could you please re-post that URL to include the missing bit (after "po")?

Repeated tries brings me only "Your request does not match ..."

Many thanks.


Anonymous said...

sounds like worksafe bc needs a major shake-up.....

Campbell and his gang do not care aabout small business and their struggles to survive. Your best hope is to close down and go work for Wal-Mart

Chris said...

Remember when Gregor Robertson was brining this up in the Legislature and Kevin Falcon was insisting that not a single business had closed on Cambie. That was funny.

Budd - bitter much? Stephen deserves to be given credit for his pictures. That's the whole point of CC licensing. If you want a venue to whine, I suggest you use your own blog - oh that's right, you don't have one because no one would read it.

Anonymous said...

Re annon 12.56 am There never was a bridge over the Fraser at Main Street. It was over at Fraser Street. There were two bridges; a swing span over the North Arm and a high clearance one over the South arm. The two bridges connected Fraser Street to Number Five Road in Richmond. And in my opinion they should have been left in place. Both span were sent by barge up into the Prince Rupert area somewhere and are still in use to my knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Re file share link: it fit on Preview but software doesn't auto-wrap. Best to cut by line onto Notepad, then paste together as URL.

I copied about a third of manual. That SHOULD be on the internet. We paid for that document and we will pay for any screwups that result from same. BTW: Crowns are obliged to give legal advise to cops but prohibited to deliver same to others. That is BS. In Ontario, there is a statutory obligation imposed on Crown Counsel and Justices of the Peace, to assist citizens in pursuing justice. JPs MUST work with members of the public on production of "Private Informations," viz 507 (Criminal Code) applications. The current practice is unlawful. But try to challenge in in face of Oppal's packed courts.

Do the research: the AG is NOT appointing members of the Defence or private tort litigator bar to the Bench, because those persons are most likely to apply natural justice to law and facts before them. The BC Legal Services Society posts Bench appointments; I am not pulling that accusation out of thin air.

Bill Tielman: your life would be much different if a certain ex-Premier hadn't been subject to a legal lynching. Ergo I am surprised that you insist on squelching accusatory comment against Gen2 of the Fix. In 2004, a Toronto City solicitor noted that over $30,000,000 in tort claims against cops had been paid out in the prior 10 years. In my calculation, Vancouver judges allowed less than $25,000 in payouts in the same period, notwithstanding several cases of horrendous wrongful conviction and excessive force. As I write, Oppal has an appeal against a $8,000 reward to civil rights attorney, Cameron Ward, sub judice in the Appeals Court. Canwest doesn't give a crap. Someone else should.

Anonymous said...

Where do you draw the line?

One of our retail outlets had a permanent median built blocking our street from the busy road that is the life blood of our store. Traffic is now detoured blocks away. This has led to a drop in business in our store and our neighboring merchants. We have been there 15 years and just signed a 5 year lease extension weeks before. There was never any consultation.

Are we entitled to compensation?

Anonymous said...

Again, all you people talking about "other" construction projects, don't understand the A) history of the the project and B) the length of disruption.

A) What was supposed to be underground boring turned out to be cut and cover. Businesses signed leases based on the original project details.

B) The project took THREE years and completely enveloped some businesses. Have you ever literally had a 100 foot moat dug around your business with gigantic, menacing equipment and materials humming and hawing all day? Most of the merchants were NOT landlords and the "long" term benefits were COMPLETELY insignificant to them.