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The B.C. Supreme Court has awarded Vancouver small business owner Susan Heyes $600,000 in damages for business lost during the Canada Line construction on Cambie Street between 2005 and 2008.

Heyes sued the province, TransLink and InTransitBC, seeking compensation for business disruption caused by construction of the Canada Line rapid transit project. She claimed business interests had not been considered when the decision was made to use a “cut-and-cover model” that involved excavating the street, rather than a bored tunnel.

Justice Ian Pitfield ruled the cut-and-cover method constituted a legal nuisance for businesses. He granted damages and found TransLink, Canada Line Rapid Transit and InTransitBC jointly liable.

CUPE worked closely with the Cambie Street merchants as they dealt with the fallout from Canada Line construction. CUPE  initially became involved to encourage governments to build the project through public procurement.

The fact that the project was done as a P3 played a role in both the claimant’s arguments and the judgment.

In particular, the lack of openness and public information, due in part to confidentiality agreements, meant that Susan Heyes – and no doubt other merchants along the Canada Line –were denied critical information on which to base their business plans.

The issues raised reinforce a key finding by Forensic  Accountant Ron Parks – which is that the secrecy of P3 deals is not healthy.