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Canada Line to appeal award to Susan Heyes for business damages

June 19th, 2009 · 16 Comments

No surprise, Canada Line is planning to appeal the recent court decision that awarded $600,000 to former Cambie business owner Susan Heyes for losses caused to her business by construction.

As I said in previous stories, it was hard to imagine this decision wouldn’t be appealed, given the ramifications it has for construction projects across the country. Not to mention the other Cambie businesses now lining up to sue on similar grounds.

But Susan isn’t happy about it, as you can read in her email


Vancouver, June 19, 2009 – Susan Heyes, sole proprietor of Hazel & Co., is outraged that Canada Line Rapid Transit Inc., Translink and InTransit BC are appealling the May 27, 2009 decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia that awarded her compensation for the nuisance caused by the lengthy period of open excavation during the construction of the Canada Line.

“I am hanging by a financial thread,” said Ms. Heyes, “Any further delays in receiving the full award of compensation, including costs and interest, will place my livelihood in great jeopardy.”

After four years of enduring extreme hardship and relentless efforts to achieve fair treatment, Ms. Heyes is deeply disappointed that justice is once again being delayed.  Substantial further costs will now be incurred by this appeal of Justice Pitfield’s decision in her case.

“Government is quick to bail-out large corporations. Yet the very backbone of our economy, small businesses, are being treated with such disrespect,” said Ms. Heyes, “Small businesses deserve better than bankruptcy when government-funded mega-projects impact their life’s work.”

The Canada Line is a for-profit, private venture (P3) funded with taxpayers’ money. A small number of citizens are bearing an unfair burden for a project being built for the public good and for the profit of a large corporation.

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  • DMJ

    What ramifications? Every major transit project in Europe and the USA includes a compensation package for affected merchants – the promoters of the Canada Line didn’t bother providing this.

    Even the Nottingham LRT project had a compensation package for affected merchants! And Nottingham’s LRT projects was a real P-3 and is making an operating profit EVEN AFTER PAYING DEBT SERVICING CHARGES!

    Pitfield called the RAV/Canada Line a charade.

    The real story is this media types.

    The cost of RAV went from $1.3 billion to a now estimated $2.8 billion and because of this massive cost escalation RAVCo. did this:

    1) Reduce the scope of the project by limiting subway station platforms to accommodate 3 car trains.
    2) Single track operation in Richmond.
    3) Change from SkyTrain to a generic metro system.

    The result, Vancouver is a proud owner of a truncated metro system that has about 40% less capacity than if simple LRT were to have been build on the Arbutus Corridor for less than 1/3 the cost.

    Cost to bring RAV up to a LRT standard?

    Over $1 billion!

    That is the real story.

  • Denis

    Don’t we just love the clowns we put in control of things? The media folks will have lots of stories about what fools we are but don’t blame the media. Blame us for hiring shifty people. They can only get away with stuff if we let them. One business woman beat them and they don’t want to bite the bullet and pay up. They could care less about her or anyone else along that line. BC best place on earth to get shafted by a democratic elected government. God ony knows what will happen to the health Ministry as Falcon the big transport pusher, heads over to check hospital beds. Tolls for getting a bed maybe?

  • I think the bigger issue here is who should be paying the compensation — not whether some is owed.

    I think Hayes made a good case that there was a “bait and switch” approach to promoting the new rapid transit line’s construction. The government promoted it as a bored-tunnel approach that would only minimally disrupt business along the way — but instead agreed to the cut-and-cover method when costs came in. Because of her understanding of the original plan, Hayes placed orders for merchandise that she subsequently couldn’t sell (Fashion being a business where the product goes “stale” fast).

    Misrepresentation cost her money – yes. But are the contractors at fault? the government contracted them to build a cut-and-cover transit line; they’ve done that.

    If Hayes wins in the appeal, it will start to cost taxpayers a lot more to do infrastructure projects because the companies governments contract to do the work will need to take out some sort of “law suit” insurance. Or, they’ll demand a much higher fee in order to cover the risk of lawsuit. Also, for taxpayers, there’s a chance that the world’s best infrastructure engineering firms like SNC or Seimens won’t touch a BC project, leaving us with second-rate, less experienced operators building our infrastructure.

    There is a lot at stake. But it would have been so much easier and likely cheaper had the government simply paid each merchant a “compensation sum” at the outset and let the merchant decide whether to move, close, reduce operations for the duration, etc.

  • DMJ

    Quote: “If Hayes wins in the appeal, it will start to cost taxpayers a lot more to do infrastructure projects ………….”

    Sorry no. By paying compensation, when it is deserved should not increase the cost of the project, because you save on litigation.

    If compensation were to have been awarded, you can bet your bottom dollar that SNC would have done the job better and made damn sure that her business wasn’t affected for any great length of time.

    In Nottingham, no business frontage was to be directly affected for more than two weeks, if it was, then higher compensation would have to be paid. Heyes had the road in front of her dug up for 4 years! Because SNC was faced with compensation penalties, they didn’t give a damn.

    The fault lies with TransLink, RAVCo. and the Liberal government and they are trying to spin the nonsense that you are repeating.

    As I said before, the real story about RAV is that the public got, for $2.8 billion, was a third rate metro system, built to satisfy the Premier’s mania for a P-3 project!

  • Canada Line Attendent.


    1. Not sure where you are getting your info from, but the Canada Line does NOT accomodate 3 trains. The trains are coupled in pairs (like the Mach II skytrain cars) and can ONLY operate paired, and are paired for life. Many platforms are thus ONLY as long as 2 train cars – additional cars CANNOT be added on. That being said, the trains are MUCH bigger than skytrain (about twice as wide and longer than a Mach II) and accommodate many more people. It is my understanding that this was decided EARLY in the process, and not after costs escalated. (All the stations are designed for this type of train, the trains cannot be extended beyond paired cars, and the cars cannot be build any other way).

    Also: I am not sure what you mean by “generic metro system”. The system is still fully automated, and the company that has built the technology behind the automation is the same company that built the automated system for the Skytrain. The biggest difference is in the motor type and how the train interacts with the power system. I don’t think that the Skytrain technology was EVER really seriously considered for this project, so it wasn’t a “change from”, if Skytrain had been considered, that would have been decided during the bidding process, and before the costs over ran, and therefore, there was not a “change from skytrain to generic” due to cost overruns. I am not saying it should or shoudn’t have been the same technology, I’m just stating this sort of decision was made at the bidding stage, not the cost over run stage.

    Also: in regards to item 2:

    NO CLUE where you are getting your “single track operation in Richmond” information from. I have ridden the line end to end, multiple times, and the ONLY places where there is a single track is heading into terminus stations, where dual tracks aren’t needed because the trains going in will be the same trains going out. The tracks then split again before the next station.

    Note: I normally comment in this blog with my name but I am witholding it due to the issue of me being employed to work on the Canada Line.

    That being said, without commenting on the case/appeal (my company being a sub company of SNC Lavelin created to operate the system is actually free of liability), if anyone has any questions about the system, feel free to post with them and I’ll do my best to answer.

  • Robert

    I’m stretching my old memory but I seem to remember the Musqueam received compensation for disruption to their fishing because of the tower construction of the Canada line bridge over the North arm of the Fraser.
    I’ve lived in the Sea Island Marpole are for about 60 years and the last 10 or so very little fishing happened in the North and Middle arms.

    Why does one group get compesation and not another? just asking

  • DMJ

    Canada Line attendant- a note:

    There is single track operation in Richmond, done to reduce costs.

    A ‘generic metro’ is one powered by ‘squirrel cage’ motors and not LIMs. SkyTrain is a ‘proprietary’ transit system. RAV’s “Hyundai cars can operate on any metro system, while SkyTrain cannot. By the way, the official capacity of a RAV car, with all seats taken and 4 persons per metre/2 (industry standard) is 163.

    SkyTrain was in fact going to be built but when RAV’s costs were skyrocketing out of control, th more expensive SkyTrain system was rejected.

    RAV and SkyTrain are incompatible in operation and will never see a through service, which is just silly transit planning.

    The RAV stations are designed for 3-car trains but currently the cars are operated in ‘married’ pairs, just like SkyTrain. ROTEM also offers cars designed for ‘being in the middle’ and the same is true for Bombardier’s MK.2 cars as well, thus, in theory, able to run 3 or 4 or up to 8 car trains if need be. Station size on RAV constrains car size to 3 car trains, in turn constrains capacity.

    Being an attendant doesn’t an expert make.

  • Joe Just Joe

    The capacity of the 2 car Rotem cars is acutally 400 people, and the trains are all built to accept what is called a C-Train, it is a smaller car and open on both ends it fits between the A and B car so it looks like this A-C-B, as opposed to the normal A-B trainset. The current A-B trains are 41m in length which happens to be the same length of the stations (acutally 40m but the trains overhang a touch). Some stations have been built to a 50m length and the remaining have been predug to that length to enable them to be easily expanded at a later date to accomadate the 3 car trainsets. They do not expect to need to expand to 3 car trainsets for quite a while as they will not be running anywhere near maxium frequency at the begining and it’s cheaper to expand capacity by increasing frequency first, not to mention people rather wait 3 minutes for a smaller train then have to wait 5 for a larger one.

  • Canada Line Attendent.

    DMJ: Where is there single track operation in Richmond other than heading into the terminus stations? I would really really like to know, seeing as I have been on the line several times and the only single track that I have seen, in real life life and on maps is heading in/out of the two terminus stations. We have been running the system as if it is ‘live’ (as far as frequency of trains goes) and trains run on both sides of the tracks at all times when possible. We have to, as per how we get paid for train availability by Translink. Your continued assertion that there is single track operation in Richmond is simply false.

    The capacity of a Canada Line train just under 400 people.

    The decision to go with Rotem and not Bombardier was because of the 3p process. All bids were placed on a level playing field, giving no preference to the Skytrain/Bombardier technology, despite how much sense it might have made to stick with the same technology. I am not saying that I think the decision to deflect from the existing technology was necessarily a good idea.

    If you look at the final bids in the best and final offer stage proposals, only one of the 4 final bids (2 from each company) specifically indicates Skytrain technology. Even the alternate proposal from RAVexpress, of which Bombardier was a part, suggested a separate technology street car line for the Richmond legs of the system.
    Skytrain technology was rejected in the bidding process. Do a little bit of research on the process and this is plain to see.

    Yes, they are incompatible. I never suggested they were. As a citizen, I too think it’s a bit absurd, but again, this is due to the 3P process. That being said, in my travels to large cities, it seems common that there are several transit lines with different technologies/different operating companies. It doesn’t appear to be that uncommon.

    Again, I’m not sure where you are talking about the stations being designed for 3 car trains. Most stations have platforms that are about 40m long-50m long. I have not seen any document anywhere that talks about changes to designs to suit shorter trains, if you can point me to a document that would be appreciated.

    3 car trains are just not feasible on the system as it is. The expansion to 3 cars has never come up in my own research or in training, and to add a 3rd car to the system would fundamentally change a lot of the system – platforms would have to be expanded, and the OMC/maintenance center tracks and buildings would need to be completely changed in their design. Probably Rotem does have designs that allow for this. I’m not arguing against it. What I’m saying is that from my point of view of being in the stations, most stations are only as long as 2 car trains. I would be curious if you could find anything that indicates that there is room/ability/plans/etc. for future expansion to 3 cars. I just don’t see how it can be done.

    Again, a lot of your information is false. Where do you get it from? I have been in all the stations and on the system end to end several times. Things like station lengths and dual track operation are things that I witness and encounter on a daily basis.

  • Canada Line Attendent.

    @Joe Just Joe:

    Interesting info! Where did you get it from? There has been no talk around Protrans for the addition of a ‘C’ train, but I have heard that *some* station platform lengths are extendable.

    I agree though, capacity won’t be reached for a very long time, so debating over it is a bit moot at this point in time.

  • DMJ

    Canada Line Attendant, sadly you are a TransLink troll. Your points are easy to refute and your ignorance of the line is glaring.

    The track between the last two stations in Richmond is single, which was done to save money. Single track operation constrains headways, which in turn constrains capacity. Gogol’s satellite view confirms my statement.

    The decision to go with ROTEM was to save $60 million to $100 million by building with a generic metro instead of SkyTrain. Sadly there can never be any interface with SkyTrain, so the prospect of through (no transfer) operation is nil. This makes RAV a bit of a pig in a poke as forced transfers deters ridership.

    The system is designed for 3 car operation and ROTEM produces carriage for such operation. If you what you state is true, then RAV’s capacity is well under 14,000 persons per hour per direction, which would make the metro a farce.

    Note: TransLink gives higher capacities for ROTEM’s metro cars by using crush loading figures of all seat occupied and standing passengers at 6 persons per metre/2. Industry standard is 4 standing persons per metre/2, thus giving a capacity of 163 persons per car ( still over twice of that carried by a married pair of SkyTrain Mk.1’s). RAV’s theoretical capacity at 90 second headways would be 13,040 passengers per hour per direction. By comparison, Calgary’s C-Train can operate now at 90 second capacities which gives an theoretical hourly capacity of (3 car trains – capacity 175 per car = 525 persons) 21,000 persons per hour per direction.

    The km. of single track in Richmond will constrain capacity to such an extent that at best, RAV’s maximum capacity will be about 10,000 pphpd! Sad fact is, the total cost to date of Calgary’s C-Train is just over $1 billion, where the cost of RAV (thanks to information from Susan Heyes court case) is well past $2.5 billion, which added to the $6 billion spent on SkyTrain so far demonstrates why TransLink is in such a financial bind.

    As for my comments being false; it is you sir, hiding under anonymity that is shilling false information.

    Fact is, subways need ridership in the range of 400,000 to 500,000 passengers a day to justify construction, if not, massive subsidies must be paid.

  • Joe Just Joe

    DMJ, you need to stop cherry picking numbers to suit your LRT is superior arguement. How much is Seattle paying per km for their LRT line? You do know that Calgarys line was built years ago and that they are now regreting not going grade seperated and are looking at Billions to fix the situation. I understand you have a love towards LRT but you are doing it a disservice by misrepresenting the true costs of it. Both have their place in they do not need to be exclusive.

  • MB

    DMJ: “Heyes had the road [Cambie Street] in front of her dug up for 4 years!”

    Correction: The road at 16th x Cambie, where Hazel & Co was located, was dug up for 23 months. It was rebuilt several months ago.

    I live near the Cambie Village too and was greatly inconvenienced by the engineering methodology from the Middle Ages. For the record, I suppport a compensation package for this and every other major transit project.

    But that does not blind me to the benefits the Canada Line will bring over the next 100 years, especially when placed in the context of the next generations of transit … planned, proposed or potential (now there’s another kind of P3). That would include a plurality of options, from runners to bikes to Euro trams to subways to passenger ferries. We already have enough cars & asphalt.

    Here’s to sustainable cities. At least I wish our senior governments would see them that way instead of as cash cows.

  • MB

    DMJ: “The cost of RAV went from $1.3 billion to a now estimated $2.8 billion … [a] massive cost escalation …”

    Well, proclamations like that need some backing up. I suspect the first number is low even for DMJ’s beloved light rail (or even the engineer’s first estimate), and the second is higher than the winning bid.

    Every project in Metro Vancouver, from major public infrastructure projects to minor home renovations, experienced cost escalations in the 15%-35% per annum range from 2003 to mid-2008. The Canada Line is no exception, though they did a great job in locking in many of the prices of materials early.

    My biggest beefs are that they used the widely discredited cut-and-cover tunneling method, they paid workers from Central Amercica at a shadow rate compared to the locals working on the project, they prioritized the Canada Line ahead of other more important transit projects (e.g. Millenium Line extension, the introduction of streetcars to arterials, especially south of the Fraser, and a significant expansion to the bus fleet).

    However, the unions took the labour issue to court and won an extra $2 million for them.

  • MB

    Oh yes, my other beef is the P3 ideology.

    The private operator will receive revenue from Canada Line ticket sales for 35 years. A floor revenue level is guaranteed by the public agencies.

    The P3’s true purpose is to limit not just the financial risk and up-front debt to senior government, but to diminish its direct commitment to transit.

    That is a shameful diminshment in government’s duty to uphold the public good, and a demonstration of wilfull ignorance with evidence mounting that alternatives to petroleum-based transportation need to be developed well before the price of oil hits the stratosphere again.

    When fill ups cost $300, the public will be howling for all the transit they can get.

  • MB

    DMJ: “Sad fact is, the total cost to date of Calgary’s C-Train is just over $1 billion …”

    And about three dozen lives directly attributable to otherwise preventable accidents at level crossings (26 accidentlal deaths in the 90s alone). This doesn’t include unpreventable suicides.

    There are no level crossings anywhere on SkyTrain, nor are they planned for the Canada Line.

    You get what you pay for.