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Heyes’ win is good news for other Cambie merchants but will it stand?

May 28th, 2009 · 20 Comments

In my Globe  story today about the court ruling that Canada Line owes Susan Heyes $600,000 for the “nuisance” it caused, lawyer Joe Arvay says this is good news for the many other Cambie merchants he is representing in the class-action suit still to come.

But before everyone gets TOO jubilant, I should remind all that I talked to quite a few lawyers yesterday who, no matter which side they were rooting for, can’t imagine that this case won’t be appealed. There’s just too much at stake. It essentially means that any government or government agency building anything, from a trail to an airport, has to prove that it chose the construction method that caused the least amount of disruption to businesses or residents nearby.

That always risks being something of a subjective call. Although Judge Ian Pitfield did say in his ruling that the cut-and-cover method used for the Canada Line was more disruptive than a bored tunnel and that’s why Heyes deserved compensation, there are those (particularly Canada Line engineers) who will argue that a bored tunnel is just as disruptive.

It requires digger a much bigger “box” at each transit station where the equipment has to go down for the boring. That would essentially close down the street between each dug-up intersection.

Certainly the merchants on West Broadway, who are starting to mount their own campaign against any form of SkyTrain in their area, don’t believe that a bored tunnel would be any better. They want a streetcar-type line instead. So there’s an interesting dilemma. If this judgment stands, TransLink would have to make the argument, if it wanted a SkyTrain line, that it had a public duty to build SkyTrain rather than light rail. THAT would prompt quite the raging public debate. This blog’s typical comment war to the power of a nuclear blast, I would think.

The lawyers for TransLink/Canada Line are hunkered down at the moment going through the 72-page document with a cat-flea comb, but wait for news of the appeal next week is my bet.

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