I appreciate the apparent complexity of the problem of equitable and realistic compensation. However, not to deal with the topic at all sets an unacceptable precedent that it is ok to push through a public project without regards to private rights to make a living and provide for their families. The businesses in Cambie village, in many cases, have their life savings invested in their businesses and are the only means they have to provide for themselves and their families. That means to survive has been stripped away without regard by the very government bodies they have been paying taxes to. The Cambie merchants are not asking for handouts, they are simply asking for moral and ethical behaviour and the right to continue to be contributors to our economy, through their businesses.
A public project managed with integrity would include, full disclosure of the methodology and impact of the project; communication with the merchants regarding how they are being affected by it and what they need to get through this crisis; acknowledgement and accountability for damages created; and responsibility to compensate for those damages. These principles apply to private construction projects and are enforced by law. Public projects should not be exempt from our most fundamental of laws - being accountable to others for foreseeable damages caused by actions taken.
The management of the Canada Line project is riddled with inconsistency of word and action. It appears that the parties that back the project haven’t done their due diligence re: the cost of the project, which includes the cost of the impact of those in the area, as it relates to the chosen construction methodology. Whether the damages are intentional or unintentional, they should be required to compensate as they are the only ones that have the power to create or prevent financial damages to others.
The construction methods and corresponding impact on the Cambie businesses was grossly misrepresented and the construction schedules change almost daily, leaving the average business person incapable of planning for and managing losses. These losses are simply a cost of construction that should have been allowed for and factored into the funding equation. To allow public projects to go forward without consideration for impact is socially irresponsible. It is our duty to stand up and ensure that this construction model is not repeated anywhere else in Canada.
There is a simple remedy for determining and compensating for losses created by the project. Look at earnings prior to construction and earnings during the construction, the difference is the extent of the business losses created by the project. This could be easily verified by requiring financial statements audited by certified accountants. This formula could be restricted to projects over a specific period of time (say three months or longer), causing unsustainable financial damages that endanger the continued existence of the business.
For those that have left the area, the losses could be limited to the time spent in the area during construction. For those just arrived, they entered into commitments with full knowledge of the impact and should have factored those into their financial plans, therefore not being eligible for compensation. The fact that so many new businesses have entered the area should be testimonial to the “fire sale” nature of the businesses that have been replaced. It should not be considered evidence of healthy commerce in the area.
Asking for responsibility for damages created in the form of compensation is the only action consistent with our democratic political system and our legal justice systems as they are currently defined. To sanction the expropriation of livelihood by the government at will, “for the public good”, is a very dangerous precedent to set.
Dale DubberleyPresident/ Thai Away Enterprises Inc.