A sinkhole of another sort for Vancouver small businesses

Post by Mike Klassen in


GlobalTV reports on the impact the big hole has had on small biz

Vancouver's massive sinkhole is sucking more than a lot of newspaper ink into its giant vortex. It's having a big impact on small businesses as far as over 20 blocks away, according to Friday evening's video report by GlobalTV's Ted Chernecki. Businesses along the South Hill neighbourhood on busy Fraser Street are getting whacked because street parking has been pulled with no notice to keep the articulated buses running.

This story reminds me of another "hole" story that my colleague Daniel wrote early in 2009. The story was a bit of a sensation because, as was pointed out, the City of Vancouver is often liable in cases where citizens or businesses are affected by acts of god or other actions by city workers. We used the example of potholes, and explained that damage to autos from an improperly maintained street could result in damages being awarded.

In fact, the Vancouver Courier's Mike Howell reported this in his recent cover story about Vancouver paying almost $9 million worth of legal costs since 2001.

From 2000 to Dec. 1, 2010, the city settled 211 claims for a total of $8.8 million, according to documents obtained by the Courier under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Total settlement payments ranged from a low of $186,489 in 2000 to a high of $1.5 million in 2001 and 2009. The city's engineering department, which includes it streets, sewers, transport and waterworks divisions, had the highest number of payouts at 91.

As Howell's FOI document shows, many of those costs to Vancouver taxpayers are directly related to street maintenance claims.

While we're sure that City Engineers are working steadily to fix the gaping crack in south Vancouver's street network, it can't come soon enough for many businesses and residents in the area who are being hit in the wallet. It's not encouraging to hear that there has been some finger-pointing at Metro Vancouver by the City on this problem.

When Vancouver's snowmageddon happened in December 2008, then new Mayor Gregor Robertson booked off to Mexico Cuba for a vacation while the impact of the deep freeze had the public asking who was in charge? For Robertson's sake he better hope that this giant hole is filled, the parking is back and traffic flowing again before he packs up for another vacation in the sun.

What do you think? Does it seem that the City could be doing a better job of communicating with Fraser/Marine Drive businesses?

- post by Mike


I think if it happened a block away from the Mayor's house it would have immediately had all the funds and extra manpower needed to fix it up lickety-split.

The other problem is that the street didnt have any bike lanes that were closed down.

This video highlights a few of the businesses affected, but by no means all of them. I encourage residents to try to make a special effort to patronize those individuals whose livelihoods are suffering through no fault of their own.


Are you saying only those people that sue the City get paid. What about us little people that do not even know about the two-month statute of limitions that has to be met before a court document is issued. Why is it that the City has to wait until a complaint is in the courts before paying anything. Who pays for damages less than $186,000 (the citizen who can't afford a lawyer)like for $100.00.

Sinkhole (definition):
'A natural depression in a land surface communicating with a subterranean passage, generally occurring in limestone regions and formed by solution or by collapse of a cavern roof usually in cities where local governments are doing a very poor job at administering the funds, are corrupt or they are 'holes' of a different kind themselves.'

As a small business owner @ the intersection of Marine Drive & Main St., my business is down about %70 since the sink-hole occured, with a monetary cost of close to $5000 & counting.

There seems to be no end in site, and I can't see traffic resuming as normal, until mid January at the earliest, so am I not entitled to compensation?....

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