Broadway food store sues SkyTrain expansion project for damages

The number of customers decreased significantly during the project and with it the company’s profits,” the lawsuit states.

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A Vancouver grocery store has filed a lawsuit alleging that the proposed SkyTrain extension along Broadway is a nuisance and has had a significant impact on its business operations.

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Last summer, the project began constructing a 5.7-kilometer extension of the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark station to Broadway and Arbutus.

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The plan to install six new SkyTrain stations has resulted in reduced vehicle traffic and parking at several locations along Broadway.

“The project had a dramatic and negative impact on the owner’s business, largely resulting from physical and visual obstructions of the premises,” says the lawsuit filed by Greens Organic and Natural Food Market, located at 1978 West Broadway.

“The number of customers dropped significantly over the course of the project and, with it, the company’s profits.”

Prior to the start of the project, pedestrian access to the premises was available via two sliding doors at street level off the sidewalk on the south side of Broadway and transit buses provided access to nearby stops, says the shop.

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Parking was also available for guest vehicles on both sides of Broadway and in a parking garage behind the premises. All that changed with the construction project.

Construction continues on the Broadway Skytrain line in May 2022.
Construction continues on the Broadway Skytrain line in May 2022. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

“The unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of the premises caused by the project could have been avoided if the defendants had used the method of construction of the “bored tunnel” for the relevant segment of the project, which would not have caused disturbances on the surface of Broadway Avenue,” the suit claims.

“Instead, Defendants chose the less expensive ‘cut and cover’ method of construction for the affected segment of the project, knowing that this less expensive methodology would materially impact businesses on both sides of Broadway Avenue.

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“The foreseeable result of the nuisance caused by the project has been a significant loss of revenue to the owner’s business.”

The natural and organic food store, which has rented the premises since 2008, is claiming damages for nuisance and general damages.

No response has yet been filed in the lawsuit which contains allegations that have not been tested in court.

In an email, the provincial Department of Transportation said that with the matter before the court, the department is unable to comment.

But the email adds that when complete, the project will provide fast, frequent and convenient SkyTrain service to BC’s second-largest jobs centre.

“Unlike the ‘cut and cover’ approach used on the Canada Line, the majority of the new Broadway subway line is dug underground,” the email states.

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“Where we need to connect stations to bored tunnels, the project uses an innovative traffic deck approach to ensure traffic access is maintained during construction of the station below the traffic deck.

“As part of the project, we are maintaining access and visibility for businesses throughout construction. We have been actively working one-on-one with businesses along the Broadway corridor, to share information and mitigate impacts where possible.

In May, Sentheepan Senthivel, co-owner and manager of the store, expressed concern about the impact of the construction project on his business.

“It becomes a death sentence,” Senthivel said, adding that businesses shouldn’t have to lose their livelihoods to infrastructure projects.

Senthivel said he launched a petition that garnered nearly 1,000 signatures calling on the province and city to provide tax relief to businesses affected by the project through the end of 2025.

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