Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cambie Street merchants abandoned to destruction by provincial government

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday March 24, 2009

Gov't abandons Cambie merchants


For the plaintiff and other similar small businesses along the route, the construction of the Canada Line has been an unmitigated, unnatural disaster.

- Lawyer Cameron Ward for Cambie Street merchant Susan Heyes

Every small business owner in B.C. owes former Cambie Street merchant Susan Heyes an enormous debt of gratitude.

That's because Heyes, a clothing store owner and single mom, has, by herself, taken on the entire provincial government, TransLink and others in B.C. Supreme Court for the devastation they caused her in constructing the Canada Line rapid transit project.

But it's the B.C. Liberal government that owes Heyes and other merchants an enormous debt - as compensation for the outrageous damages they suffered from business lost over years of disruption.

You will hear how "important" small business is to Premier Gordon Campbell during the upcoming provincial election. But you won't hear a word about providing dozens of business owners with one nickel of compensation for their documented huge losses.

The government's pathetic line was made clear when former B.C. Finance Minister Carole Taylor testified last week that she was "quite disappointed" at the lack of influence the province had on TransLink to compensate merchants impacted by the project.

"It was a TransLink project," she said. "There's no question the province didn't have any control over the project."

Quite disappointed, eh?

TransLink receives massive funding from the province and in 2007 the province took complete control of TransLink.

What Taylor wouldn't say is that if she and Campbell had picked up the phone just once to say "compensate" to TransLink - or done it themselves - Heyes and other merchants wouldn't have been left facing financial destruction.

Taylor's self-serving words of sympathy ring hollow - she did nothing to help Heyes and other desperate Cambie business owners when they needed it.

Another evasive performance, delivered with her customary aging ingenue smile.

Then there's Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon, who cowardly refused to testify in the case, using the lame excuse of "parliamentary privilege" even though the B.C. Legislature was not in session last week.

Taylor also sent a government lawyer to court, trying to weasel out of testifying but B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ian Pitfield was having none of it and compelled her to show up.

I got to admire Susan Heyes and other merchants when the Canada Line project began - they hired me to help get their message out that they supported rapid transit but only if it was done as a boredtunnel underground, as promised.

Instead they were betrayed, a highly disruptive but cheaper "cut and cover" construction method was used and the results were disastrous.

Now we can only hope the court does what the government won't - compensate these innocent victims.



Anonymous said...

I predicted this since 2004, when Charlie Smith of the 'Straight' phoned and told me. I think I said "Are they crazy?", Don't they know cut and cover subway construction devastates adjacent businesses?"

Follow the blog postings on Rafe Mair's blog - RAV(ing) mad at RAV.


Lost in Susan's court case is that RAV was built on a foundation of falsehoods, fabricated facts and gross exaggerations of the truth.

First estimated to cost a laughable$1.2 billion, Gordo & Co., soon found the cost rising faster than a skyrocket. To reduce costs RAVCo. pretended it was P-3, so the peons (taxpayer) could not vet the project. The costs for the subway then exceeded $2 billion, grand economies had to be made:

1) The project switched to a generic metro instead of SkyTrain, which saved over $50 million.

2) Cut-and-cover subway construction was substituted instead of much more expensive bored tunnel construction. C & C is only cheaper if compensation isn't paid.

3) Single track operation in Richmond, which drastically reduced capacity and precludes any extensions.

4) Subway stations under Cambie St. were built to accommodate 3 car trains, which again dramatically reduces capacity. Capacity on the now (depending who you talk to) $2.4 to $2.8 billion subway, is much less (as much as 10,000 pphpd less) than if simple and much cheaper LRT were to have been built. Cost to increase station size, over $1 billion and then the C & C thing all over again.

Now there is the real story - where is Carole James? Where is the NDP?

I told you so!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Gosh, its hard to believe the person writing the ceques for the governemtn didn't know what was going on. Same story spun by assorted people in assorted wars. Falcon is pretty clueless, but the famous Ms. Taylor now says she couod do nothing. way to go team. When all esle fails DENY. I wonder if Gordon's best friend missed out on any garvy on the deal. Don't ask Gordo, because Wally will tell us it's before the court( He was doing this thing protecting King Gordon again to day in the Ledg in question period. Gordo doesn't talk in the house if at all possible. They should start calling him Velcro Lips

Anonymous said...

The judge should be careful with this one.

Two years ago a meridian was added, supposedly, for public safety on the access road to our retail outlet. This has made it much more difficult to access our store, a 2 block detour, and has led to a decrease in sales. This was all done one month after signing a 5 year lease with no consultation whatsoever from the city. Our landlord and myself, both who been there for 20 years, had no idea. Should we both qualify for compensation?

Will public policy decisions that reduce profit for businesses be enough to sue the government for damages?

Where is the line and who decides what that line is? Or do only politically sensitive cases that come with the loudest mouthpieces and best sob stories qualify for compensation.

Anonymous said...

What amazes me is that gordo (the drunk), wee kevie (the lier) and the rest of the lieberals, continue with their denials. It is the tip of the iceberg. ALL eight years have been compounded by these and many more lies. A continual stall re: Virk & Basi, which will show gordo controlled the entire aspect of the sell-off of BC rail. Which should put him, colins, and the rest in jail. His front man stonewally should be ashamed of his actions. I, as well as many people have lost faith in him. Time for gordo to go... directly to jail. NO golden handshakes!

Anonymous said...

I rejected the Cambie connection from the start. There is a rail line from Richmond to the Science Centre that was easily excavated. There IS a need to redirect local Richmond traffic along the Knight Street bridge, thus another crossing is needed. I would have built same along Main Street, making it parking free. Parking towers could have been built near the shopping areas. As for downtown routes, I would have devised connections to the Sky Train, at Main Street, and created easy downtown bus connections. Granville didn't have to be carved up. I would have liked to see a pedestrian/bike tunnel under False Creek, from the West End to Kitsilano; London has exactly that sort of route under the Thames. Treasury costs could not possibly be more than the over-blown system down Cambie. Cross-way traffic from 2nd Ave to 49th, has been horrible for 3 years. All that excavation, concrete, tunneling and human costs to small business owners was completely unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

Sure, opening up this to set precedent might be dangerous, but this is more than compensation.It's about being lied to and it's about a right to protest and object. I HAD a business on Cambie, an I can assure you that I was pretty much slapped up the side of my head for protesting and told to go home, and I KNOW I was lied to. Responsibility, accountability, and liability are things the government has to answer to ,too.

North Van's Grumps said...

".......she was "quite disappointed" at the lack of influence the province had on TransLink to compensate merchants impacted by the project."

The Canada Line went from an expensive boring job to a cheap cut and cover one, and the BC Liberals claim they had absolutely no control on the change of construction methods.


May we now expect that the new Port Mann Bridge project where the first one (existing) is made of steel will be replaced by a concrete one, BUT in fact the finished project will consist of not having 10 lanes, but 20 lanes, and built from a BC grown renewable resource, lumber (fire treated to avert another Pattullo Bridge fiasco).

Anonymous said...

""There's no question the province didn't have any control over the project."
'nuff said!
It's time for we the people to take back control - it seems clear our current government is out of it (control, that is)!

Anonymous said...

Of course, there is the Arbutus Corridor and former Vancouver to Richmond rapid transit route, that bisects Vancouver from False Creek to Marpole, which could have had LRT operating on it quite easily and cheaply, with virtually no disruption to business.

But Vancouver bureaucrats and the NPA had 'civic' penis envy and created the myth that "Vancouver could not be a world class city without a subway." So for a few billion more we have RAV, that as built has less capacity than if LRT was built on the Arbutus Corridor.

Ha, ha, ha.

Who builds with SkyTrain?

No one, I wonder why?
I hope Susan Heyes takes TransLink to the cleaners!

Anonymous said...

Come on Ladies and Gentlemen we have the erstwile Vaughn Palmer ,Keith Baldry and Bill Boring telling us this will set a dangerous precedent if the government lost as then they will stop doing anything. I say if they lose it might force Board Gord to tell the truth for achange or maybe even Stonewally.

North Van's Grumps said...

Arbutus corridor???? lets be realistic here. The reason that the RAV line wasn't built on the corridor was two fold.

ONE: the density to support the ridership wasn't there to be increased..... it didn't help that the corridor runs through Gordon Campbell's MLA riding either... not in my backyard, no change in demographics will happen to those high priced single family home dwellers/voters.

TWO: Spite?????? As the shaker and mover for CPR's Marathon Realty, Project Manager Gordon Campbell was thwarted from using the corridor in his rail companies plans to sell off discontinued lines as if it was were their's to sell. It took the First Nations people to say "HEY, wait a minute"... on another chunk of land in Canada ... who put a halt to CPR claims that the old rail lines was there to help their bottom lines.

The Arbutus corridor was one such item that met the criteria that it wasn't Marathon to develop but solely there for a use as a Railway line to serve Canadians. The moment they ceased to provide that service, the lands reverted back to the original ownership, and in the case of Arbutus, that was the City of Vancouver.

Art Cowie has this to say about Gordon Campbell's role in the development of Vancouver....

Anonymous said...

Memo to North Van Grumps.

There is greater density along the Arbutus Corridor, than along Cambie St., even TransLink admitted to this.

Anonymous said...

The path of "Least Political Resistance" was the Cambie Corridor.
I can attest first hand that this project over all, had some serious impacts - Heavy Financial Losses - to those that are the very building blocks of a solid economy.
Small Business.
Over the past 3 years I have had conversations with almost every small business person along the whole Cambie strip. Not a single one has said that this project did not have an adverse affect on their bottom line.
Comments ranged from I lost my $150,000.00 investment and had to close the business;- to- I am still here but, I am taking home less than I did 3 years prior to all this mess.
There was times that I wrote and personally spoke to Government Officials - Project Officials - and many involved in the oversite of the project, and at no time did anyone consider what the overall impact was on the small business sector.
It was always - " Suck it Up - it will be over with soon " "This project is for the benifit of the people at large - not just the few along the Cambie Corridor."
With a tunnel that runs underground and the major exit points are at Malls and points that direct traffic away from those that were impacted - where is the benifit.
It makes one wonder - the Richmond station is right across from a Mall- the Bridgeport Station and Park and Ride - right outside the Casino - the Oakridge Station is right at the front entry of a Mall-
the 2nd Avenue Station has and underground Mall proponent.
But yet those that were impacted the most at Southwest Marine - 43rd Ave to 39th - 25th to 12th Ave - what do they get - restricted access - and limited Bus service.
I wonder; why the two major Malls, managed by the same group; ended up with two of the major stations??
Why, did the Casino get a Park&Ride along with a major Bus Loop and a sky bridge leading right into the Casino ?
Gee wiz - could there be Money involved ??

Susan Heyes case is not the end of the issue, and I wish her success.
The Cambie Village Business Association has a pending " Class Action Law Suit" . This law suit is being funded by the levies applied to every Merchant and Commercial Landlord in the area from 25th to 2nd Avenues.
So, once again the Small Business person is being hit again. As these levies are passed on to the Merchants through Tax Noitices and collected by the City to be passed back to the CVBIA. Any Landlord that has a vacancy has to absorb this hit, otherwise it is passed on to the ocuppying Tenant.
To emphasis my point about impact, I will point out one Landlord that for 40 years - worked hard to pay off his Mortgage and spend 6 days a week 12-14 hours day,working in their business; only to be shut behind the blue fence for 2 years.
They retired right before the impact, and thought that they could rent out the store front and have a comfortable retirement, At age 75 + they had earned it.
Over those 2 years of impact - they lost well over $250,000.00
They did not invest in the Stock Market - or in Risky Investments - they invested in what was a good busniness. At their age - what hope have they got of recovering this money - ??????
They can not start over -
But yet they are expected to just suck it up - and accept that the powers at be, are sorry for their loss.
The stories about impact are many, and vary from person to person; but it all ends with the same " I Lost Money BIG Time "
Don Watters - Property Manager