Susan Heyes and the Canada Line fiasco – Justice denied!

The Canada Line was never about providing good public transitAi??for the region, rather the metro was all about political and corporate prestige. The Vancouver International Airport gang wanted a prestigious metro to connect YVR to downtown Vancouver, for corporate prestige because they thought that a metro would make YVR ‘world class’; the City of Vancouver wanted a subway for political prestige because the city fathers thought that a subwayAi??would makeAi??the city ‘world class’; and the Premier of the province, wanted a P-3 project, for political prestige, to sell voters on a ‘world class’ financing system. Anyone who got caught in the way of this prestigious ‘world class’ runaway train, were simply steamrollered -Ai??such was the fate suffered by Susan Heyes.

Despite the hype and hoopla by TransLink and their allies in the mainstream media, theAi??$2.5 billion to (according to some sources) $2.8 billion Canada Line’s performance is somewhat mediocre, with much of its ridership made up of previous bus customers, $1 a day U-pass students and YVR workers riding free on Sea Island. To add more insult to the regional taxpayer, for about $1.5 billion less, the region could have got a longer and more flexible light rail line from Steveston & YVR to downtown Vancouver, offering more customer benefits than the present metro.

The political chicanery with the Canada Line started at the beginning, with a totally unrealistic price of $1.3 billion for the 19 km.Ai??subway line andAi??as costs spiraled out of controlAi??the scope of the metro project was greatly reduced to contain costs.

  • Stations were designed to accept only three car trains.
  • The switch from SkyTrain to a conventional metro was made to save money on the reaction rail, made necessary by the Linear Induction (LIM)Ai??motors used by the proprietary SkyTrain system.
  • The terminal stations in Richmond and YVR are single track stubs that can handle only one train at a time and there is no runawayAi??tunnel in Vancouver with a cement wall only metres away from where the train stops.
  • The switch was made from bored tunnel to cut and cover construction, with savings made from not paying any compensation to businesses affected by a great trench in front of their place of business.

As built, the Canada line has less potential capacityAi??than modern LRT were to have been built instead. This embarrassingAi??fact has been camouflaged by TransLink by arbitrarily lowering theAi??industry standard for capacityAi??of LRTAi??by 50%. from 20,000 persons per hour per direction to 10,000 pphpd! Pork pies all around for the Canada Line and TransLink!

The cost estimated to increase the capacity of the Canada Line to a proper metro standard – $1.5 billion to $2 billion!

The result is now history andAi??to nobody’s surprise, theAi??merchants and businesses adjacent to the cut and cover construction suffered greatly, with many going out of business. Cries for help fell on deaf ears and one merchant, Susan Heyes, bravelyAi??took TransLink to court for compensation and won. TransLink appealed and the BC court of Appeal overturned the judgment and the $600,000 thousand in compensation.

I will not state myAi??opinion on the BC Court of Appeal decision, except I belive the judgement is flawed and politically inspired, just as the entire RAV/Canada line scheme was, for BC is alone in the world for not paying compensation to those adversely affected by transit construction, especially cut and cover subway construction.

A news release by Susan Heyes

We have a Legal System here in BC ai??i?? but do we have Justice?

On May 27nth, 2009, after four years of litigation, BC Supreme Court Justice, Ian Pitfield, awarded $600,000 in damages to my company Susan Heyes Inc. as compensation for business losses caused by the construction of the Canada Line.Ai?? The appeal of this ruling in my favour was heard April 15th, 2010. Ai??

Today, the decision was finally announced contradicting the findings of the lower court.Ai??

In upholding this appeal, the legal system has supported the confiscation of individual citizenai??i??s livelihoods by government funded private, for profit ventures. This shocking ruling has failed to protect the rights of citizens, and has failed to uphold justice and fairness in a democratic society.

The Canada Line project was built on the backs of hundreds of blindsided small business people along the Cambie corridor.

The project chose the most disruptive of several methods of construction.Ai?? This discretionary and confidential decision alone should have negated the defence of Statutory Authority which the Appeal Court Justices used today as the basis for their ruling.Ai??

Under the law, the defence of Statutory Authority can only be used when it is proven in court that no other less disruptive method of construction was available. Instead of the devastating cut-and-cover construction, a bored tunnel method was not only available, but it was the basis of all public consultations and years of engineering reports and studies.

This project was enabled by the strategic use of confidentiality agreements at every stage, leaving citizens and even municipal officials misinformed and out of meaningful consultation. The last minute secret switch from underground bored tunnel to cut-and-cover, was never approved by Vancouver City Council, as a decision making body. They had authorized the Cityai??i??s Engineering Department to negotiate the agreement that provided access to Vancouverai??i??s streets for the project in a vacuum.Ai?? The engineers were forced to sign confidentiality agreements that prohibited them from informing their bosses ai??i?? City Council ai??i?? of this critical switch.Ai??

I question the validity of any contract or agreement that allowed this project to proceed, that was obtained in the absence of the whole truth about the project and its impacts on citizens and small businesses. Compensation should have been factored into the business plan.

I am appalled that our legal system has failed to support the rights of citizens, and has attempted to provide a legal justification for the excessive harm caused by this P3 project. I further wonder how many tens of millions of dollars have been spent to legally defend the project, instead of fairly compensating the victims. Ai??

The May 27th 2009 ruling from Justice Pitfield must be upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. The outcome of this litigation will set a precedent for all small businesses across Canada. The precedent that it sets should be just and fair, and reasonable. When governments use their powers to confiscate value for the common good ai??i?? individuals must be compensated.


Susan Heyes


4255 Main Street

Vancouver, BC

V5V 3P9


604 687-0721 w

604 551-8852 c

From the Vancouver Sun


One Response to “Susan Heyes and the Canada Line fiasco – Justice denied!”
  1. Evil Eye says:

    The Eye got the following in his email. It seems that the judges on the BC Court of Appeal did not know the difference between a bored tunnel and a cut-and cover tunnel. it seems the court of appeal did not do any research and were told what to do……..

    Business as usual for BC!

    In regards to your story on the Cambie Street incident:

    This appeal by TransLink sets a very dangerous precedent. It essentially says that if you are a transit authority and have the backing of the provincial government, you are untouchable. This appeal by TransLink to overturn the original win by Susan Heyes is a travesty of justice. We are not in the best of seven Stanley Cup playoffs in court, and TransLink with unlimited funds from taxpayers is nothing more than a common thug appealing the original decision rather than admit that it was wrong.

    TransLink did not control costs because it was incompetent and was not on top of the contractor which broke its obligation to mitigate social and environmental impacts when the contractor switched from bored construction to open cut construction in order to reduce the cost of construction by $400 million. At that point, TransLink had the option of firing the contractor to select another contractor which could bore the subway to complete it on time and on budget for the Olympics.

    TransLink chose to take the expedient way out by inflicting “unreasonable” pain and suffering on merchants on Cambie Street by allowing the contractor to open cut, instead. Moreover, the City of Vancouver engineers are culpable for their lack of duty of care to the public because the City of Vancouver engineers in violation of their code of ethics did not intervene to stop TransLink.

    For the judge, Kathryn Neilson, and I use the term loosely, to suggest that boring would have caused just as much damage and nuisance along Cambie Street or elsewhere is ridiculous. This is a mistrial when the judge states that four years of hell along Cambie Street was necessary to ensure that other construction projects such as the Hornby bike lane are not impeded in the future. Disruptions to build the bike lane on Hornby Street were minor and only lasted a few months. They were “reasonable”.

    Key here is “reasonable”. What TransLink did and got away with on Cambie Street was “unreasonable” and it ruined lives. This is a mistrial by a kangaroo court selected by the provincial government to ensure a win by TransLink on the appeal.