The City of Burnaby has filed a lawsuit in the British Columbia Supreme Court claiming the construction of Gilmore Place has caused damage to public infrastructure.
The city is suing several companies from developer Onni Group, IBI Group Architects (Canada) Inc., Mark Bakhtavar Engineering Inc., Glotman Simpson Consulting Engineers, GeoPacific Consultants Ltd. and two unnamed companies.
According to the court filing, the construction of Gilmore Place has caused Burnaby’s “property to settle, resulting in significant damage.”
Damages include soil erosion, ground movement, differential settlement and cracking, and deformation of sidewalks, lanes, roads, walkways and streets adjacent to the project. None of the allegations have been proven in court and the defendants had not responded to the suit as of publication.
“The plaintiff’s property continues to suffer damage due to the ongoing construction,” reads the notice of civil claim.
Onni Group is building Gilmore Place, a master-planned community in the Brentwood neighbourhood of Burnaby, at 2108 Gilmore Ave., 4161 Dawson St. and 4180 Lougheed Highway.
The project consists of five residential towers. The first and current phase is seeing the construction of the first three towers with retail and offices fronting Lougheed Highway and Gilmore Avenue near the Gilmore SkyTrain Station.
The main tower will be one of the tallest residential buildings in Canada at 708 feet with 64 storeys. Construction required the excavation of a 3.5-acre, 100-foot-deep pit to incorporate the Gilmore SkyTrain. It is scheduled for completion as early as 2025.
In 2017, GeoPacific provided a geotechnical report stating the lands could be safely used for construction and recommended the installation of a secant wall to aid in the excavation process, reads the suit.
In February 2019, Onni entered into a covenant with Burnaby making several agreements with the city, according to Burnaby’s claim.
These included ensuring GeoPacific’s recommendations were followed, that Onni would be responsible for remediating and repairing any damage caused by construction to adjacent lands and to indemnify the city for all damages, legal claims and liabilities arising from construction including damage caused by settlement or other geological impacts.
According to the notice, the developer also agreed to pay the city’s legal fees if any action was required and successful.
Construction on the project began in 2019 with the secant wall being substantially completed by 2021. It required a deep excavation and pile driving, according to the suit.
The city writes the excavation, construction of the secant wall and the “manner in which” all the defendants undertook the work caused a reduction in groundwater level, settlement of soils and settling of public property causing damage.
During an interview with the JOC in 2021, TransLink, who have been involved in the project due to the proximity and integration of the Gilmore SkyTrain Station, said one of its main concerns was the implementation of adequate groundwater control to minimize potential settlement.
The city says the developer and other companies engaged in negligence by failing to warn the city by not ensuring the work would be done without damage to nearby property, that the appropriate materials and methods were used and that proper inspections and testing were undertaken during the construction process, among other accusations.
On top of negligence claims, the city has accused the companies of nuisance for causing and continuing to cause loss and damage of property.
The city is seeking relief for the damages in relation to the covenant, general damages for nuisance, special damages, costs and whatever other relief the B.C. Supreme Court justifies.
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