Friday, September 12, 2008

Cambie Disgrace Writ Large

It was good to see Susan Heyes' editorial in the Sun this morning. It speaks as clearly as possibl about the shameful history of the Cambie Line fiasco.

The entire text follows:

To the Editor
Re: A Seed Fund for Cambie Business
I am pleased to see at least one member of the Liberal Party acknowledging the devastation to businesses along the Canada Line.
That said, although I appreciate and welcome Mr. Peterson's helpful initiative as described, his Seed Fund suggestions will not come close to satisfying the losses experienced by any but the most recent businesses along Cambie Street. This community has suffered for three years now since the fall of 2005. Many have lost their life's work.
As a merchant who has re-mortgaged my home - twice - to sustain my livelihood of 25 years, and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, this proposal would have no effect on the huge debt I and many others carry forward. Had a fund been set up before the project started, such as the one in Seattle for communities along their Light Rail project, this disaster may have been avoided.
The core of this situation is that the Canada Line is a government funded and driven, Olympics related project that was misrepresented to the public. The City of Vancouver gave its conditional approval to the project based on the proposal for a bored tunnel.
We were blindsided by the project and all it's partners when the original proposed bored underground tunnel secretly became a deep canyon the length of Cambie Street.
There was no meaningful public consultation even though this project is unprecedented in cost, scope and duration.
Had the actual method of construction been revealed - as this open trench, with all the impacts to traffic, businesses, residents and the environment - the project would most likely have not gone forward.
That was an abuse of power.
Given the known impacts for using this cut-and-cover method of construction, Canada Line did not factor any financial relief into their business plan.
Instead, they spent millions promoting themselves with facile ad campaigns and promises of future windfalls.
They also lured new businesses to come in where others had failed or fled, with assurances that the construction would be "two to three MONTHS in front of any given business.
We deserve full compensation for the consequences of this negligence.
My legal case for compensation was filed three years ago. I have three weeks of court time booked for this November for the case to be heard. The Cambie Village Business Association, of which I am a member, has retained lawyers to prepare a Statement of Claim for a potential $20 million Class Action. The membership will be voting shortly on filing this action.
I have consistently made it clear that I and others would welcome a fair settlement out of court. It is beyond belief that families have had to take this unthinkable step of taking our own government to court in order for this to be resolved.
Instead of spending millions to fight small businesses, our government should be doing all it can to support our survival.
Canada Line has built this project on the backs of all the small businesses whose livelihoods have benn expropriated. The project builders and developers who are snapping up land deals all along the route stand to gain millions in profits, while the merchants are left to struggle with no reimbursement for the sacrifices forced upon us. It will take years for this neighbourhood to recover.
At least one member of the Liberal party has publicly acknowledged the harm done and the need to offer financial relief.
The precedent that our government and Canada Line is setting with this negligence and lack of respect for the small businesses, residents and the commuting public, is an ugly one.
Who else has the integrity to make this right?
Susan Heyes
3190 Cambie Street
604 687-0721


Anonymous said...

One will never be able to prove it but just look at who stands to gain the most from this travesty. And you had better believe it was all set in stone BEFORE the RAV deal was ever inked.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Premier can send an MLA out to let her know how we will 'share the wealth!

Anonymous said...

Susan H. is a David facing off against a Goliath. There should be a public enquiry of RAV/Canada Line, asking such questions as:

- Why did SERCO, the train operating company part ways with SNC lavalin?
- Why did the International Banks not invest in the RAV P-3, resulting with Campbell & Co. pillaging the public sector pension plans to fund the P-3?
- Is RAV really a P-3?
- Why wasn't LRT considered on the former rapid transit route, the Arbutus corridor? Was the study (if there was a study) sound? Who were the experts who wrote the study?
- Why is the capacity of RAV only a maxi mun of 15,000 pphpd? (LRT on Arbutus could handle 20,000 pphpd)
- Who has bought property along the RAV route? Did cut-and-cover force owners to sell at fire-sale prices?
- Why wasn't a compensation fund set up for local businesses as is done with other cut-and-cover construction.
- Will RAV take off the claimed (claimed by Falcon, Gordo and Sullivan)100,000 to 200,000 cars off the road each day?

Martin the Ridiculous said...

While I fully support Ms. Hayes and Cambie Street merchants, she would be setting a dangerous precedent.

In the late 90's, I was forced to deal with construction of the Millennium Line near my apartment. I was subjected to many early mornings of noise, and inconvenience due to traffic rerouting. I'm sure businesses along the Millennium Line experienced what Cambie Street merchants, but did not sue. However, none seeked compensation, and the ones that survived seem to have thrived due to increased commuter traffic.

I do agree with proceding with the lawsuit on the grounds of fraud as it was totally misrepresented as a bored tunnel, then done as a cut and cover. I hope this gets settled out of court, and that Skytrain never goes under the Broadway corridor in the future.

MurdocK said...

I say nuts to the merchants.

They should have seen the magic marker writing on the wall when the second, yes SECOND, forced vote on the RAV Line was being forced through trans-klunk. They had at least a year between the first shove and the Third time the vote was crammed through. That means time to exercise escape clauses in contracts or work on getting concessions from building owners that will be the long-term winners from the RAV Line. Otherwise, flee. Run, run as fast as you can away from any big-MEGA-construction projects that have been pushed this way.

The warning signs were all there and the "Tomato?" restaurant saw it and broke their lease on the way out the door. They are in a new location now and doing better than ever, from what I have heard.

I am sorry that so many of the rest of the commenters agree with the business owners that are fighting, however I do not.