By Alison Taylor
The owners of the once-sinking Eva Lake condos have recouped thousands of dollars each after settling on a deal with the resort municipality and two other engineering parties named in their lawsuit.
The deal, which was finalized in December, marks the end of a two and a half year legal battle over the sinking condos, which were built in the late 1980s as an employee housing development.
The settlement came in the nick of time for those facing the threat of foreclosure on their homes.
For homeowner Sean Cox it marks a new beginning and he was elated the parties had made a deal.
“There was a real sense that this (legal fight) could go on forever,” he said. “Having this all come about and the settlement come through, it’s amazing.”
Shannon Story, manager of legislative services for the municipality, said the municipality is also pleased to see the end of the lawsuit.
“The municipality is pleased that we’ve reached a compromise settlement with the owners of Eva Lake Village,” she said. “The RMOW wants to avoid litigation with our citizens.”
Story would not comment on the details of the deal due to a strict confidentiality agreement.
But the strata’s annual general meeting minutes, obtained by Pique Newsmagazine and dated Nov. 23, 2006, show the owners voted overwhelmingly in favour of an $800,000 settlement.
The owners paid $1.25 million to have two sinking buildings fixed last summer. The settlement means the owners will recoup about 65 per cent of their costs to fix the buildings.
The strata AGM minutes show it was a 23 to 2 vote in favour of the deal.
“I think people had mixed feelings,” said Barry Burko, owner of Summit Strata Management, the company representing the owners. “They were happy to be getting over 50 (cents of their dollar) back on the investment (but) I think they wanted more. I think they realized that to get more they would have to spend quite a bit more money in legal fees (and there is an associated risk with any lawsuit). So I think on balance people were generally happy about the settlement but obviously were left wanting.”
The minutes show the bulk of the money has been divvied up between the 36 condo owners. Owners received a refund, depending on how much money they put into repairs.
In addition, $125,000 will pay for interior repairs to several units.
The settlement marks the end of claims against the Resort Municipality of Whistler, engineering company Snow Country Consultants, and structural engineer Jonathan C. Paine.
An earlier settlement was reached with engineering company Jacques Whitford. It is not clear how much money was agreed upon in that settlement.
However, no settlement has been reached with builder Rod Nadeau who was named as a third party by Snow Country and Jonathan C. Paine in March 2005.
As part of the deal, Eva Lake owners have given up all claims and causes of action against Rod Nadeau to the resort municipality.
“All I can really say now is that he’s not part of the settlement and has not paid out any money,” said Story.
Reached at his office this week Nadeau said he could not comment on the issue because it was before the lawyers.
Story explained that it would be up to the Municipal Insurance Association, the municipality’s insurer who struck the deal, to pursue any other legal action to recoup costs.
“At this point that kind of decision has been given to our insurer to be able to reclaim any sort of costs,” said Story.
The settlement, however, does not shed any light on why the buildings were sinking and who was ultimately responsible for it.
Two buildings are now completely stabilized but a third building is showing signs of stress.
“It’s showing some signs of settling,” said Burko. “It’s being closely monitored but at this time no remediation is needed.
“I think they’re hopeful that it doesn’t need to be settled… The owners have come through a pretty traumatic time. They’re paying off bills. Again, it’s money out of their pocket.
“I think they’re moving forward.”
Cox credited Burko and Summit Strata agent Karen McKibbin for the way they guided the homeowners during the difficult and often emotional and worrying process.
“The work they’ve done has been amazing.”