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Blog by Kevin Wong

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Village Condo Owners Giving Up On Their Olympic Dream

Repair crews are working every day to fix deficiencies at the troubled former Olympic Village, but a lawyer representing 66 original homebuyers suing to get their money back says that’s not enough.

Seven crews — including five dedicated full-time deficiency-repair crews — are working to “expeditiously remedy deficiencies in condominiums, rental suites and common areas throughout the development” now rebranded as The Village on False Creek, said court-appointed receiver Ernst and Young in a news release Tuesday. It said deficiencies are “typical in any newly constructed development” and it has been actively addressing the problems.

“Issues involving water — particularly where there is a risk of further damage — and heating, toilet systems and domestic hot-water issues, are accorded the highest priority,” the release stated.

However, lawyer Bryan Baynham, who represents 66 presale homebuyers in five of the buildings, said the problems are far worse than mere deficiencies and his clients want out.

“This isn’t about paint chips, or carpet that doesn’t fit, or flooring that wasn’t installed properly,” Baynham said. “There are major design problems, there are major construction problems, there are systems problems.... Then there are deficiencies — major deficiencies — but the first four go beyond deficiencies.”

For example, Baynham said, one client in a $1.7-million unit is dealing with mould in the floors after water leaked into the unit. Another client depended on space heaters for four months due to a faulty heating system. A third client has had water drain into his bathroom three times.

“They bought into the Olympic dream and they got rental-quality units,” Baynham said. “These aren’t speculators; almost all my clients are people who intended to live there.”

The receiver said its goal is to have “the vast majority of repairs on deficiencies currently reported to it by homeowners completed by May 2011.” Repair costs are not yet known, as not all invoices have been received, according to Ernst and Young.

Baynham said the lawsuit is predicated on the mandatory disclosure of ownership information.

“In order for the disclosure to be adequate to my clients, every company that was a developer had to sign the disclosure statement,’ Baynham said. “[Millennium Developments] didn’t sign ..., nor did the city. We say that defect ... was a breach of the Real Estate Development Marketing Act.”

Baynham said he expects the city to respond to his clients’ notice of civil claim within the next few days.

In another release Tuesday, Bob Rennie, principal of Rennie Marketing Systems, said there are now 118 unconditional sales of new units at the village, out of 230 available since Feb. 18. Units priced between $349,000 and $4.1 million remain available.