Vcr Gelato shop sues governments, Olympic officials over Games disruption

VANCOUVER, B.C. - The owner of a popular gelato shop located a stone's throw from Vancouver's athletes' village is suing Olympic organizers and three levels of government for disrupting his business with pre-Games road construction and during the international sporting event itself.

VANCOUVER, B.C. - The owner of a popular gelato shop located a stone's throw from Vancouver's athletes' village is suing Olympic organizers and three levels of government for disrupting his business with pre-Games road construction and during the international sporting event itself.

Mario Loscerbo, the namesake for Mario's Gelati, says in a statement of claim filed this week that the Olympics have cost his business more than $2.5 million since road construction began outside his shop last spring.

The document says the construction took far longer than originally predicted, lasting through the typically busy summer season, and road closures during the Olympics nearly choked off business completely.

"Basically, it's been a disaster," Loscerbo said in an interview. "I could guess maybe a 90-per-cent drop (in sales)."

The statement of claim, filed in B.C. Supreme Court, says the city planned upgrades to the street outside Mario's Gelati as part of pre-Olympic upgrades in co-ordination with the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee, known as VANOC.

The document alleges city officials told Loscerbo that construction would begin in spring of 2009 and be finished within one month. It also says the city promised to restore the road and sidewalk outside the shop to its previous condition.

In fact, says the statement of claim, construction began in May 2009 and lasted seven months, disrupting vehicle and pedestrian traffic to the shop throughout last summer.

The sidewalk has never been fully repaired, the document says, and road closures around the athletes' village during the Olympics - which are expected to remain in effect until the end of the Paralympics on March 21 - have made it almost impossible for customers to visit.

The lawsuit names the City of Vancouver, the British Columbia government, the federal government and VANOC. It seeks damages and asks for an injunction to prevent the road closures from continuing.

The city and the province declined to comment and neither the federal government nor a spokesman for VANOC were immediately available.

Loscerbo, who has been operating the gelato shop and a banquet hall at the location for 12 years, said he was excited when the city was first awarded the Olympics.

"My beef is not with the Olympics myself because I'm in favour. I enjoyed every game, almost had a heart attack during the last hockey game," he said.

"But this has nothing to do with the Games - this has to do with the people who didn't (take) account of my suffering. I hope for me, my life and business return as they were before all this and my customers come back."

The lawsuit appears to echo some of the arguments made by a merchant affected by the construction of the Canada Line rapid transit expansion in a case that saw that business owner awarded $600,000 last year.

That case centred around the decision by the project's developer to install the underground rail line by tearing up the street rather than using the less intrusive - but considerably more expensive - method of boring a tunnelling underneath.

The judge in the Canada Line case said the impact that construction had on the business outweighed the benefits of the transit expansion, and suggested the developer should have pursued the less intrusive option.

That decision is currently under appeal.

Other merchants affected by the Canada Line construction have since launched two class action lawsuits.

 
 
Latest From ...
Most Popular From ...