Former PM Kim Campbell suing Vancouver developers over tardy condo

VANCOUVER – Former prime minister Kim Campbell is suing a Vancouver property developer over delays in delivering her luxury condo.

The one-time Conservative leader and Canadian ambassador has filed a lawsuit against Georgia Properties Partnership, Georgia Trust and Hotel Georgia Management Ltd.

In her notice of claim, Campbell says she signed a contract in October 2007 to buy a suite in the Private Residences of Hotel Georgia. The pre-sale purchase came during a heat wave in Vancouver’s always hot real estate market and Campbell put down a $368,000 deposit.

The market has since cooled considerably, and Campbell’s is one of 13 lawsuits filed against Georgia Trust and Georgia Properties in the past year.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that this is not a complaint about the quality of the building, or the furnishings, or the structural integrity or anything of that sort. It’s strictly about their failure to complete when they said they would,” says Bryan Baynham, the lawyer who represents Campbell and the other litigants.

A B.C. judge refused last year to certify a class-action lawsuit over the condo development.

Construction was originally to be completed by December 2011, but the developers changed that date seven times, say court documents. On at least three occasions, they failed to file the necessary amendments under the Real Estate Development Marketing Act, says the claim.

The move-in date on the development website is now listed as March 6, 2013.

The lawsuit seeks to have the sales contract voided, and Campbell’s deposit returned, with interest.

The luxury condominiums are listed today starting from $900,000.

Baynham said his clients paid an average of $1.5 million for units. They bought at the peak of the market in late 2007 and early 2008, before a worldwide economic downturn hammered the real estate market.

After that, the downtown Vancouver condo market dropped about 25 per cent, he said.

“These people lost the use of their money for five years,” Baynham said.

Adrien Byrne of the Urban Development Institute said the Vancouver market is strong and stable, “but definitely not increasing at the rate it has been in terms of home prices over the last few years.”

“People see the opportunity within the existing legislation,” to get out of presales contracts, Byrne said.

A trial has been scheduled for Campbell’s case next January in B.C. Supreme Court.

Campbell became Canada’s first female leader when the federal Progressive Conservative party chose her to succeed Brian Mulroney in June 1993, but her tenure was short-lived. The ruling Tories were reduced to two members of Parliament in an election the following October.