A legal battle over possession of a hangar at the Langley Regional Airport has gone in favour of the Township after a ruling last week by the B.C. Court of Appeal.
A three-judge panel dismissed the appeal by Airside Event Spaces, a company controlled by Howard Nielsen, which was evicted from Hangar 17 in the summer of 2020.
The Township claimed there had been multiple violations of the terms of the lease, including that Nielsen had rented out an illegal suite in the hangar to tenants twice, that he had subleased part of the building to a flying school, and that for years he had allowed a Christian youth group to hold its meetings there.
The Township claimed that some of the teens in the group had even ridden Segways onto active runways at least once, causing a hazard.
Airside had argued that the Township had given tacit permission for some of the breaches of the lease agreement, including the use of the space by the youth group.
The company also argued that the judge in the initial B.C. Supreme Court trial didn’t give enough weight to the financial loss suffered by Airside – the company had invested more than $2 million into renovations and the lease had years left to run.
However, a decision penned by the B.C. Appeal Court’s Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten found no fault with the original judge’s reasoning.
“Airside has not persuaded me the judge misapprehended the evidence,” DeWitt-Van Oosten wrote in her decision, with which the other two judges agreed.
She found that Nielsen was “not forthright” in his dealings with the Township, including about the length of time Youth Unlimited was going to use the building, and that he repeatedly stalled on attempts to have Township staff inspect the hangar.
“When Langley entered the premises in August 2020, there was a clear indication of Airside being in breach of one or more terms of the lease,” DeWitt-Van Oosten wrote.
Airside’s lawyers failed to show that the impact of the forfeiture of the hangar amounted to an “injustice” or that the original judge didn’t take into account the law, and therefore, the appeal was denied, the judges wrote.
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