Canadian Consulting Engineer

Store owner awarded $600,000 for construction upheaval

A recent court decision in British Columbia could have serious implications for public infrastructure projects. On ...

July 13, 2009   Canadian Consulting Engineer

A recent court decision in British Columbia could have serious implications for public infrastructure projects. On May 27, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the B.C. transportation authority and a private design-build consortium were liable for $600,000 in damages to a merchant whose store lies along the route of the Canada Line construction project in Vancouver.

A Ms. Susan Heyes won the award on the basis that her business had suffered losses and disruption due to the cut-and-cover construction method used. She runs a maternity wear store called Hazel & Co. on Cambie Street.

Canada Line Rapid Transit/TransLink, the authority overseeing the construction, as well as InTransitBC, the private consortium contracted to design, build and operate the new light rapid transit line, are appealing the decision.

One of the key issues of the case revolves around the fact that originally the rapid transit line in this particular section of Cambie Street was going to be built using the less disruptive tunnel boring method. However, in 2004 the TransLink board approved the cheaper cut and cover trench method.

The Canada Line links Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. to the waterfront downtown and is due to be open on Labour Day in September. SNC-Lavalin is part of the InTransitBC joint venture, which is investing $750 million in the project and has a contract to operate and maintain the line for 35 years.

According to a press release the decision of InTransitBC and the others to appeal is “based on a combination of legal advice and the concern that Justice Pitfield’s decision has potential ramifications for numerous public-sponsored infrastructure projects…”

If the case becomes a precedent and is upheld on appeal, it could mean huge claims by businesses that lie close to construction activity. The Justice Pitfield decision dismissed Ms. Heyes’ claims against the city of Vancouver, the province and the federal government.

 


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