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North Cowichan councillor Bruce Findlay ordered to pay $170,960 for strata ‘misrepresentations’
Development company was ‘saddled with significant debt,’ BC Supreme Court finds
The BC Supreme Court has ordered North Cowichan councillor Bruce Findlay to pay $170,960 in damages plus legal costs for “various misrepresentations” to the strata owners of a Ladysmith apartment complex.
The damages include: a contingency reserve fund contribution of $47,500; repaving of the driveway and parking lot, $90,000; main floor common area plumbing lines, $30,000; and entranceway communication system, $3,460.
Justice Andrew Majawa concluded in a Mar. 30, 2023, written judgement that Findlay is “personally liable for the damages awarded.”
Findlay was a director and shareholder of GPI Developments Inc., which developed a residential project, Seaview, at 218 Bayview Avenue in Ladysmith.
Seaview consisted of 44 rental suites. GPI intended to renovate the apartment building and convert it to a strata development, selling the strata units to investors as a source of rental income. The units sold in 2011.
Majawa said a sales brochure contained a memorandum signed by Findlay that stated GPI would undertake common area and exterior renovations, including a new asphalt parking lot and line painting, and replacement of the entrance communication system. The brochure also indicated GPI would establish a contingency reserve fund with an initial capitalization of $55,000.
A disclosure statement — signed by Findlay on behalf of GPI, and filed with the Superintendent of Real Estate — contained similar wording.
“It is common ground that GPI did not make a $55,000 contribution to the Strata Corporation’s contingency reserve fund. It is also common ground that GPI did not cause the parking lot to be repaved, nor did it cause the common area plumbing supply lines to be replaced, and nor did GPI cause the entryway communication system to be replaced.”
GPI was dissolved on May 25, 2015. The lawsuit by the strata corporation on behalf of the owners of the strata suites was launched on June 3, 2016.
Findlay argued that GPI went "above and beyond” in other aspects of the development, but Majawa said that did not make up for the misrepresentations to purchasers of the units. “There is simply no connection between them.”
Majawa added: “I accept that GPI was saddled with significant debt and ran out of money.” (Read the full decision: https://bit.ly/41RPRcj .)
Asked to comment Monday, Findlay attributed the debts mostly due to “funding excessive rental monies to purchasers and performing extra, non-contractual renovations. The company faltered because of that reason.”
He said he plans to appeal.
On his website, Findlay cites his extensive development background and strong business experience. "I believe in accountability and oversight. I believe in strong fiscal stewardship."
Findlay’s financial disclosure statement for the Oct. 15, 2022, municipal election referenced “significant debt owed to family members and shareholders.”
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— Larry Pynn, May 1, 2023