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Judge ups damages for car dealer displaced by overpass project

Springman’s, on the Surrey-Langley border, closed not long after construction
B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (Black Press Media files)

Car dealers whose Langley Bypass business was partly expropriated for an overpass project deserve more money in damages from the City of Surrey, three B.C. Court of Appeal judges have ruled.

Brothers Dan and Reuben Springman and their business partner Larry Visco owned the dealership and land where Springman Saturn, and later Springman Saab, operated for years on the Surrey side of the Surrey-Langley border.

When the 196th Street overpass was built as part of the Roberts Bank Corridor Project, the City of Surrey had to temporarily expropriate a chunk of their dealership lot for construction.

The land was off-limits to the Springmans from 2012 through to 2013 when construction finished on the new overpass. The Springmans and Visco sold the property that year.

During construction, the site was affected by noise, dust, and distraction, and it was impossible to display cars along the Bypass frontage.

The business partners won a 2021 case against Surrey, getting $220,000 after B.C. Supreme Court Justice Nitya Iyer agreed that they had been financially impacted more than Surrey had accounted for.

READ ALSO: Judge orders Surrey to pay $220K over land expropriation lawsuit

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But Visco and the Springmans appealed the amount of the damages, and on March 23, the court gave the business owners a partial vitory and increased their financial compensation.

Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon wrote in the decision for the three-judge panel that Iyer had erred in parts – but not all – of her original ruling.

The Appeal Court judgment means additional damages of $66,150 for out-of-pocket expenses and $83,000 in losses on parts and vehicle inventory for the Springmans, discounted as “accelerated expenses.”

In addition, Visco and his holding company will see their damages for injurious affection increase from $154,114 to $382,144.

However, the Springmans had hoped to win damages of up to $3 million, based on loss of opportunity to keep operating the business up to their retirements around 2019, when they had originally planned to sell the land.

Fenlon did not agree with that argument, noting that when there is an expropriation, the government taking over the land pays fair market value at the time. There’s no precedent for calculating the price based on a sale years in the future.

“When a compensation claim is heard after a drop in the real estate market, an expropriating authority cannot claim reimbursement for payments made prior to the downturn,” Fenlon wrote in her ruling. “Similarly, it is trite that expropriated owners cannot claim against authorities for future gains in the market.”

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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