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Cambie Village business owners see first day of court

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Reported by Shannon Lynch

Today was the first day of a class action lawsuit filed by Cambie Village business owners against the companies involved in the construction of the $2-billion Canada Line.

Over 200 business and property owners in the lawsuit are claiming damages due to the cut-and-cover method of construction on used along Cambie Street.

Worth the cost?

Paul Bennett, lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the court that the companies involved in the construction, which include TransLink and SNC-Lavalin, should have used a bored tunnel method in Cambie Village instead of cut-and-cover. He said this method “would have eliminated the interference.”

The court heard that the bored tunnel method would have cost an approximated $34 million more.

“Evidence will show that the incremental cost could have been substantially lower, even at $34 million,” Bennett said.

The defendants have yet to speak in court but have released a statement saying, “a bored tunnel project would have caused a similar degree of interference and disruption.”

“If there was more tunnel, it wouldn’t have the additional impact of the cut and cover,” said Bennett.

Small businesses hit hard

Leonard Schein owned the Park Theatre on Cambie Street during construction. He has since sold it to the theatre giant Cineplex Odeon Corporation. Schein said SNC-Lavalin benefited from cheaper construction at a cost to businesses in the Cambie Village.

“A private company has gained financial benefit to the detriment of small businesses,” Schein said.

Gary Gautam owned Cambie General Store at 3399 Cambie.

The 2008 statement of claim says that construction of the Canada Line using the cut-and-cover method “caused the Cambie General Store to suffer loss and damage.” Gautam claims his store lost around $154,000 in sales in 2007 alone. The store now sits empty, its windows papered shut.

The businesses are looking for compensation for their losses, but have not yet set a specific amount.

The case is expected to run until Dec. 12 and possibly into the New Year.

The companies involved in the lawsuit range between the Canada Line stations of King Edward station, Broadway-City Hall station and Olympic Village station. See the map of the companies here:

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