Edmonton’s mayor said he wants to take a deeper look at the city’s handling of legal claims after a local restaurant was damaged during a police arrest last summer.
The owner of Tzin Wine & Tapas in downtown Edmonton said the ordeal has left them on the hook for about $3,000 in damage repairs, but at this point, it’s about much more than just money.
On Aug. 10, 2021, Glenn Quinn said his wife, Kelsey Danyluk, received an alert on her phone about activity on the security cameras outside their 104 Street restaurant. Quinn said the video showed people milling about outside the restaurant and then a bright flash.
Danyluk decided to go see what was going on, so drove to the restaurant where she found cracked and broken windows, as well as damage to the outside façade and stonework.
Inside the restaurant’s mailbox was a card from an EPS constable. Danyluk phoned the constable, who explained that the business was damaged during an arrest.
A spokesperson with the EPS said the tactical team deployed a flash bang during an arrest of a potentially armed suspect. Cheryl Voordenhout said flash bangs are used as a distraction or to get the attention of a suspect in order to negotiate a peaceful surrender.
The 22-year-old suspect in the case ended up being charged with seven offences, including robbery, possession of a prohibited firearm and possession of an offensive weapon dangerous to the public.
Quinn and Danyluk filed a damage claim with the City of Edmonton, seeking compensation for the cost of the repairs. After speaking with a lawyer, the couple decided to go that route to avoid increased insurance premiums.
In a response dated Dec. 16, the City of Edmonton said the claim was denied because a review found “there is no negligence on the part of the City of Edmonton or Edmonton Police Service.”
“Edmonton Police Services were acting under the scope of their duties and as such, the city cannot be held liable for the damages sustained to your property,” read the letter from the city.
“Although we are sorry to hear of this unfortunate incident, we are unable to consider your claim. As this concludes our investigation, we have closed our file.”
Quinn said they were given the option of filing a further claim in provincial court.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow because $3,000 worth of damage to a small business… coming into now two years of a global pandemic which has decimated the restaurant industry,” Quinn said.
“We don’t have any issue, obviously, with the Edmonton Police Service doing their job, but we certainly have an issue when a small business — through no fault of their own — has been damaged.”
Quinn said luckily $3,000 won’t force them to close their business, which has been in operation for nearly 15 years. At this point, it’s not about the money.
“It’s the principle that’s involved. If this can happen to us as a small business it can happen to any small business, it can happen to a private citizen,” he said.
“We’re unhappy with the decision and this is why we are doing what we’re doing right now.”
Shortly before Christmas, Tzin Wine & Tapas took to social media to share their story. The post prompted Mayor Amarjeet Sohi to reply and reach out directly, saying he would have it investigated further.
Then, on Jan. 10, the restaurant owners received another notice from the city saying their matter was “currently under review.”
“Whenever we see our businesses struggling, we need to make sure that their concerns are heard, that they are properly tackled,” Sohi said Wednesday. “A lot of people in the hospitality industry have struggled a lot during the COVID situation and they need our compassion and they need our empathy as they deal with these kinds of situations. We need to support our small businesses whichever way we can.
“We are definitely going to take a deeper (look) into some of the procedures that the city follows. You know, being only here for three months now, I’m not as familiar with some of the legal ways that Edmontonians or businesses can go through, right? But this is something that we can absolutely ask our administration.”
In a statement Wednesday, the city said adjusters perform thorough investigations to ensure that claims are handled properly, both in terms of treating citizens fairly and protecting the city’s interests as stewards of taxpayers’ funds.
The couple is hopeful for a different outcome this time around.
“We expected it would be a reasonably smooth process,” Quinn said of the claim process.
“We understand that certain things take some time. Life happens. We understand all this, but we were shocked about the initial outcome.
“We’re hopeful that we may get a more positive outcome in the future — in the near future, hopefully — but we also hope that another small business or citizen doesn’t have to go through what we’re going through.”
The city noted the latest review would take some time, as the leadership is addressing a number of competing priorities.