October 06, 2016 - 4:30 PM
SHUSWAP - A Shuswap company claiming business losses due to a highway improvement project has lost a large portion of its court battle with the provincial government.
The owner-operators of Shuswap Lake Estates, a recreational retirement community in Blind Bay, sued the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure over the Hilltop to Balmoral Road Four Laning Project, which was completed in 2011.
As part of the project, the province acquired land from Shuswap Lake Estates to allow for expansion and improvements on the Trans Canada Highway. Shuswap Lake Estates had the right to pursue business loss under the Expropriation Act.
The company filed a civil claim in 2012 arguing the highway project resulted in less visibility and inconvenient access to its real estate sales office, which it says led to loss of lot sales.
In his ruling, Justice G. C. Weatherill noted access to the sales centre was not lost, but merely reconfigured. The new route requires drivers to do some back tracking and follow signs to the sales office.
“In my view, not only is this new means of highway egress substantially safer, it provides additional time for unknowing travellers to decide whether or not to visit (Shuswap Lake Estate’s) sales office after the signage and the office itself are observed,” Weatherill said.
He also noted that before the highway project even commenced, the ‘global credit meltdown’ of 2008 occurred, resulting in a decline in the B.C. real estate market overall.
Weatherill added the importance of a real estate sales office has “diminished considerably with the advent of the internet.”
He dismissed the company’s claim for business losses and for the cost of relocating road utilities. He did, however, grant them just under $77,000 for water bypass costs related to the project.
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