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Second class-action lawsuit proposed over downtown UBCO campus construction

Overlapping lawsuits highlight broader construction issues at new campus
UBCO downtown Kelowna construction site with Hadgraft Wilson Place in background.

Another proposed class action lawsuit has been filed over the downtown UBC Okanagan campus debacle.

Natasha Chance is the lead plaintiff on a notice of civil claim filed last week in Kelowna in relation to the evacuation of Hadgraft Wilson Place.

The subsidized apartment building was ordered evacuated on March 31 due to damage caused by the adjacent excavation for the new downtown campus.

“With only 48 hours to evacuate, Natasha did not have time to transport all of her belongings out of her apartment. Since the building remains unsafe to enter, she paid to replace many of the belongings she left behind,” says the lawsuit.

The lawsuit names both UBC and UBC Properties Investments Ltd. as defendants and aims to represent tenants of Hadgraft Wilson Place.

It was filed two weeks after another proposed action that seeks to represent anyone living in or doing business in buildings damaged by the construction at 550 Doyle Avenue.

The courts will likely have to sort out the overlap between the two proposed classes, which are being represented by competing law firms. Both lawsuits will require the certification of a judge to proceed.

The Chance lawsuit alleges construction at the UBCO site first damaged Hadgraft Wilson Place in September 2023, months before the CoLab working space, Kelowna Legion and SD23 property were evacuated due to similar damage.

“UBC was aware of the damage sustained to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 26 building, the CoLab building, and School District 23 building in October and December of 2023, yet UBC continued construction of the UBCO project,” the lawsuit alleges.

The City of Kelowna said last month it is expected it will be “several months” before residents can return to Hadgraft Wilson Place. Residents are being housed at Okanagan College until the end of August.

The notice of civil claim says damage to the building “was a foreseeable result” of UBC’s negligence.

UBC has 21 days from the claim’s filing date, May 16, to respond to the lawsuit. None of the allegations in the claim have been proven in court.