Progress in ongoing legal efforts to secure vacant occupancy of former Seabreeze
The Lady Minto Hospital Foundation has been handed a partial victory in their ongoing legal suit against several occupants who refuse to vacate their property at 101 Bittancourt Road, the site of the former Seabreeze Inne. Following the Foundation’s application for injunction, which was heard in BC Supreme Court last month, reasons for judgement have been released placing the Foundation at an advantage as they push to regain control of their property.
The Lady Minto Foundation sought the injunction to remove occupants from the Seabreeze Inne property after its March 2023 Supreme Court hearing was delayed to February 2024. The occupants of the property, who were sheltering at the Seabreeze before the Foundation’s acquisition, have refused to leave the property, having paid no rent since July 2022. Addressing the need to mitigate damages, LMHF made an injunction application seeking vacant occupancy to get underway on construction of vitally required hospital-staff housing.
Justice Saunders’ decision was two-fold. Two occupants who are deemed trespassing must vacate the property by noon on June 30th and are barred from returning, while the question of the remaining four occupants was seen as not a simple enough determination for the injunction to be granted. Justice Saunders characterized as “unfortunate” the shortage of Judges which resulted in the postponement of the March hearing, noting that the March hearing “could have resolved all matters on their merits.” LMHF is confident that upon hearing the facts, the Court will also determine the remaining four occupants to be similarly trespassing.
Moreover, the Justice noted that LMHF was well within its rights to bring the injunction application, pushing back against claims from the defendants’ counsel that the injunction amounted to an abuse of due process and denying their request to be awarded special costs. The Lady Minto Hospital Foundation recognizes the judge’s decision as a contributor to their effort in reclaiming the property.
Lady Minto Foundation purchased the former Seabreeze Inne in 2022 with the intent of transforming it into hospital staff housing in order to address the concurrent and related staffing and housing shortages faced on the island which continue to impact our hospital to this day. The Foundation is eager to conclude this dispute and resume its work in this regard.
Premier Eby was the Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing when he met with LMHF in June of last year and requested we extend the lease to BCHousing (BCH); the lease which gave rise to this situation. At that meeting, which was one year ago this week, then-Minister Eby committed his office would take over and resolve this file; a commitment which he has not yet kept. LMHF therefore calls on Premier Eby to step up and cut through the quagmire of BCHousing and have them comply with the terms of their lease with LMHF in which BCH is obligated to “take all commercially reasonable efforts to provide vacant possession of the Rooms[…]” to LMHF. Additionally, that Eby direct BCH to immediately pay LMHF the outstanding $2,500/day overholding penalties it committed to in the lease; six months of accrued penalties which now total over half a million owing to this small charity and which are allocated to pay the current installment on construction of our new Emergency Department for Lady Minto Hospital.