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Commercial Drive businesses sue FortisBC over disruptions from pipeline work

East 1st Avenue's Cassia bakery closed for the summer amid gas line construction.
East 1st Avenue's Cassia bakery closed for the summer amid gas line construction. Global News

More than a dozen businesses on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive are suing FortisBC over losses they say they suffered during gas line work last summer on East 1st Avenue.

Plaintiffs in the notice of civil claim filed at B.C. Supreme Court,  include coffee shops, restaurants and a neighborhood drugstore who claim the road closures hurt their bottom line, with at least one business permanently shutting its doors.

READ MORE: Commercial Drive businesses threaten to sue Fortis over business lost during 1st Ave. closure

The claim states the gas company agreed to pay and implement extra advertising to help businesses during the summer-long disruption, but that FortisBC didn’t follow through to the extent it had promised.

The suit claims shops lost money because of blocked roads in the neighborhood, less access to parking and noise in the area.

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It also claims portable toilets were placed right in front of shops, further turning customers away.

“The plaintiffs have all suffered loss and damage, including loss of revenue, loss of profits, loss of business goodwill, cost of relocation, closure of businesses, increased expenses, interest costs of financing additional debt and other losses, loss of rental revenue; past, presents, and prospective,” states the suit.

“Due to the disregard of FortisBC and its construction workers in save guarding the businesses from economic loss, the plaintiffs experienced revenues and reduced land value to to loss of business,” it adds.

READ MORE: First Cambie merchants win damages in Canada Line construction class-action suit

The plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified amount in special, aggravated and punitive damages.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

In a statement, a spokesperson for FortisBC said the company said the gas line works was a necessary upgrade that would serve more than 210,000 customers.

“Our general approach with businesses… focuses on proactively supporting many establishments along our project’s route with social media promotion, community events, and signage,” reads the statement.

“When completing these upgrades, we have to balance impacts to community with our responsibilities to our customers and regulators.”