VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A business owner on East 1st Avenue is exploring legal action against FortisBC because he says shutting the street down has cost his business tens of thousands of dollars.
The cross-town route was closed between Nanaimo Street and Clark Drive for the majority of the summer due to gas line upgrades.
Longtime owner of Federico’s Supper Club on Commercial Drive, Federico Fulco, says the utility company has broken a promise to consider financial compensation should the full street closure have a negative impact on his business.
FortisBC had apparently agreed to look at compensation on a case-by-case basis at an open house before the project began, but they “completely reneged” and told him to “lawyer up” in July.
“The reneging on compensating the businesses, to me, I think is inexcusable,” he says. “I think it would be a great gesture, and in good faith, for Fortis to come back to the table and say hey, let’s negotiate with businesses, and compensate their business loss.”
Fulco says he and 10 other affected businesses are speaking with lawyers.
“There are businesses that have had to close for two months. It’s not right. I’m not one to ask for a handout, but, in this instance, something needs to be done,” he says. Moving forward with legal action won’t be easy, he says, but “we’re going to forge ahead and do something.”
FortisBC isn’t taking questions, but said in a statement that it hasn’t been served with any legal action and does not provide direct monetary payments to businesses.
The full statement is below:
We have been working with businesses along the gas line route to support them during construction. This includes ensuring access is maintained for deliveries and customers, installing signage, and featuring businesses in social media promotions and at community events. However, we do not provide direct monetary payments to businesses.
At this time, we have not been served with any legal action, and can’t speculate on that possibility.
We will continue to work with businesses and residents along the route during the gas line project to minimize the impacts of construction.
Last month, a bakery on East 1st Avenue near Commercial Drive said it was forced to close its doors after business plummeted due to the closure. It said they went from seeing 60 customers per day to just five.
– With files from Peter Wagner