Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

The Cambie Street Saga’s Final Chapter

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There is a story today in the Vancouver Observer which brings to an end the sorry tale of the many small businesses that failed due to the cut and cover construction of the Canada Line under Cambie Street.  Some of these merchants will be able to recover a little of the money they lost as compensation is limited to “injury to their leases”. Not nearly enough, and far too late, but mostly due to the intransigence of the constructors. And, of course, the province of BC though they were not named in the suit but they are in my blog post. I did try to document what was happening and some of the outcome. But you might find the Siskinds Law Firm a bit more authoritative on the Canadian law.

To claim compensation, former merchants and landlords affected by the Canada Line construction are urged to contact the Cambie Village Business Association before May 1, 2016, as the deadline for filing with the Court is May 31, 2016.

And, as most people know, winning a legal case is not the same thing as getting justice. My impression is that there are other places who deal with such cases in a more generous fashion, but perhaps that is going to require more historic research, as the world has steadily become less concerned about the people in general as opposed to the very few People Who Matter.

I thought I wrote more about this – as I also thought it would be easy to find better examples. But then maybe I am using the wrong search terms or the wrong search engine.



An architect’s rendering of the new dentist office and five residences that will replace the building currently occupied by Pronto/Prontino on Cambie Street. (City of Vancouver)

“Final” is a bit of an error. The story is not over, since the redevelopment of Cambie Street is moving forward. The CBC has a story of a business owner impacted by a proposed redevelopment. The single storey building which she occupies is going to be replaced by one with four storeys of residences (presumably condos, but might be rental apartments) over commercial at grade. And the intended use is a dental office, not a the cafe and bar that’s there now. I suppose because a dentist is able to afford a very much higher rent. Most suburban medical dental buildings seem to be owned by dentists.

Increase in density by replacement of single storey buildings is something I have long thought overdue for Vancouver. However, it does seem to me that the planner quoted here has a solid argument. Someone should be giving some thought about how to maintain the quality of street life in Cambie Village and similar locations. The current regulatory framework seems to be inadequate.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 4, 2016 at 3:21 pm

One Response

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  1. We used to regularly have Friday night dinner and often a Sunday brunch at the Tomato Café, formerly located on Cambie x 17th. A lovely, original place with great food (often locally sourced) and a devoted staff. Their most loyal patrons were from the film industry, it seemed. It was doing very well with lineups usually out the door after 6:00 p.m. until the trench warfare started with the Canada Line project.

    In a letter to the Sun One engineer with the competing Bombardier bid called Cambie “engineering from the Dark Ages” when they saw the change to cut and cover that captured the lower winning bid. Bombardier’s proposal followed the RFP and proposed twin bored tunnels from Waterfront Station to 63rd Ave, and therein was more expensive, though it would have been integrated with the existing SkyTrain system. To me this is just another way to illustrate that you get what you pay for.

    The Tomato Café moved to Bayswater and Broadway in Kits, and we made the effort to patronize them as often as we could, though they were much further away and well outside an average walking distance. Many of the original floor staff stayed on and one we befriended said they lost 40% of their business on Cambie due to the ripped road, which acted as both a physical and psychological barrier. But she also said their business was even worse in Kits due to the saturated restaurant market in the area and they realized they would have fared better if they stayed on Cambie and toughed it out for two years. They are now closed.

    I wonder if the owner of the now gone Tomato will make a claim.


    April 6, 2016 at 3:22 pm

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