March 15, 2019

Construction company sues Vancouver School Board for $10.9 million

BIV's lawsuit of the week

BIV files

Bouygues Building Canada Inc. is suing the Vancouver School Board for $10.9 million in allegedly unpaid construction bills for delays and other costs after the company discovered contaminated soil while working on the renewal of Kitsilano Secondary School.

Bouygues, part of the France-based Bouygues Group, filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on March 6, naming the Board of Education of School District No. 39 (Vancouver) as a defendant. According to the claim, the company and the board struck a $54 million deal in August 2013 for the demolition of an existing structure and the construction of a new school for the “Kitsilano Secondary School Renewal Project.”

The project was set to complete in June 2017, but the contract provided for possible changes and delays caused by either party. However Bouygues claims the project was disrupted by the discovery of contaminated soil and fill on the lands, costing millions to remove and delaying the project by several months, including a $17,000 charge to relocate soil containing barium.

Meanwhile, the school board allegedly “improperly refused or rejected” Bouygues’ requests for an extension of 56 weeks on the contract, and millions more for delay costs. In addition, the defendant allegedly delayed the project when it “refused to pay the undisputed value of the work performed as a result of the changes [and] refused to issue change order” while declining “to grant reasonable extensions,” the claim states.

When the project was completed in August 2018, Bouygues claims it filed builders liens against the property but the school board has allegedly “refused or neglected” to pay. The company seeks declaratory relief that it’s entitled to a lien in the amout of $10,936,988 against the lands and the improvement and damages for breach of contract.

The allegations have not been tested or proven in court and the Vancouver School Board had not filed a response by press time.


Huawei and 5G present Liberals with a complex tech challenge

Even as it delivers its pre-election budget this week, the Justin Trudeau government has serious corporate issues on its plate: the SNC-Lavalin matter that won’t disappear no matter how it tries, the Trans Mountain pipeline that won’t find a buyer no matter how it tries, to name a plus-sized couple.

But none offers nearly the economic and ethical dilemma of whither Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, as it plans to help Canada into the 5G era of smart cities and the internet of things.

The excitement is correctly palpable about 5G as the fuel for faster, stronger, preferably more secure tech – but so are the suspicions in some quarters that Huawei is a state-directed provider posing cyberespionage threats and free-market distortions Canada ought to repel.

The current, protracted review of the file by the Trudeau government would become its costliest if Huawei is banned, not only in the billions of dollars it will face in industrial assistance and corporate litigation, but also perhaps in damage to its crucial near-term nation-to-nation relationship with the world’s fastest growing economy.

Time was Canada could turn to the United States to propel technological change. But 5G is ostensibly the manufacturing domain of two European firms, Ericsson and Nokia, and two Chinese companies, ZTE and the mightiest of them all, Huawei.

The Canadian telecom giants are partnered differently: Rogers with Ericsson and both BCE and Telus with Huawei. Quite properly, they are owed clarity quickly on this issue; every day without it amplifies the fear Canada will be left behind or pay a severe price for participating.

We have had Huawei’s 3G and 4G technology coursing through our radio access networks for years, and indeed it has been a strong and positive corporate presence in investing generously in university research here.

But the concerns about 5G involve its pervasive nature. We will open the door to a much greater internet, and one think-tank likened it to the risk of the builder of your home deciding to burgle it, knowing everything intimate about it.

If Huawei is permitted to stay, industry and the public need reassurance that security concerns are manageable. Our navigation via 5G inevitably will involve all providers, not just one that could theoretically seal us off, and so this supply chain will only be as strong as its weakest link.

If Huawei is airbrushed out of the Canadian picture, industry will need compensation to unravel the Gordian knot of incumbent tech, or else the cost will be passed along to the public – either way, of course, we pay. And Huawei is bound to enact a foreign investor protection agreement Stephen Harper’s government created.

Locally, as we know all too well, we are much in the muck about this.

The forced Vancouver residency of Meng Wanzhou – Huawei’s chief financial officer arrested here in December and battling extradition to the United States to face and fight a 13-count indictment on bank and wire fraud, violating sanctions against Iran and obstructing justice – has been a force multiplier of Canada’s problems.

Even if Canada was only really following an extradition treaty with America in apprehending Meng, it has been publicly scorned and threatened and punished by China.

America, Germany, Australia and New Zealand have moved to exclude the company. The United Kingdom has so far said it could muddle through, limiting procurement from Huawei in a hybrid supply chain, but the government has not formally decided.

No matter the outcome, the Public Safety Canada review will unleash litigious corporations or repercussive countries. What will be telling will be whether Trudeau listens to his intelligence agencies, if he redeploys his SNC-Lavalin job-protection mantra, how he persuades the public he is pursuing its best interests, and what it reveals about his intentions with our two largest trading partners.

As he heads into an election, this couldn’t have been the decision nor the job nor the campaign Trudeau expected or idealized. Do not envy the man. •

Kirk LaPointe is editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.

Business in Vancouver is hosting an event March 28 in its BIV Talks series titled The 5G Dilemma. For details, go to


Where to get great deals on macarons for Macaron Day in Vancouver


Let’s celebrate Macaron Day! On March 20, bakeries around the world will offer special deals on macarons, often with a charitable component.

It’s easy to see how people can be obsessed with macarons. The petite pastry is a delicate sandwich cookie that seems light as air, boasting beautiful colours and exciting flavours. The treat may hail from France, but we have many macaron masters right here in Vancouver who turn out some absolute gems.

Feed your sweet tooth (and your Instagram feed) at these Vancouver spots offering specials for Macaron Day 2019.


At Soirette, Macaron Day is a day of joy and making wishes come true. Soirette will be celebrating Macaron Day for its eighth straight year in 2019. Once again this year, Soirette is proudly supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation of BC and Yukon. Purchase a box of six of their assorted macarons for $10 and Soirette will donate 100 per cent of the sales of the first 50 boxes directly to Make-A-Wish. Yes, 100 per cent!

Address: 1433 West Pender St., Vancouver

Ladurée Vancouver


Photo courtesy Ladurée

Direct from Paris, Ladurée’s delectable macarons are a delight to behold – and eat! For Macaron Day 2019, one dollar from every macaron sold will be donated to BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Address: 1141 Robson St., and 737 Dunsmuir St. (inside Holt Renfrew), Vancouver

Bon Macaron

Bon Macaron is partnering with the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation again this year. On Macaron Day, for each box of six macarons you purchase, Bon Macaron will give $5 to the BCCHF and customers get two extra macarons and an entry to win two spots for one of their classes. Customers will get one entry for every six macarons that they purchase. What a great way to extend your love of macarons beyond just the day.

Address: 2823 West Broadway and 545-1689 Johnston Street (Granville Island), Vancouver

Thierry Cafe


Photos courtesy Thierry Cafe

Choose from Chef Thierry’s selection of macarons from lychee, vanilla, pink praline, salted caramel and more. Available individually or in gift boxes of 7 or 12 pieces, macarons are offered from $2.50 to $27.85. As in years past, partial proceeds of all macaron sales will benefit St. Paul’s Foundation – a cause near and dear to Chef Thierry’s heart; St. Paul’s changed his life when he was diagnosed with a heart condition known as cardiac hypertrophy. A successful surgery in 2016 turned his health around and has made him eternally thankful for all the care he received from the dedicated team of doctors and nurses.

Address: 1059 Alberni St., Vancouver


For Macaron Day 2019, TWG Tea will again be running special “1 for 1” promo – buy one get one free. Find these tea-infused treats at their Georgia Street salon and boutique, available in beautiful gift boxes of six, 12, or 20 pieces. And to make things sweeter, the deal will be available on all macarons purchased March 20-22, while supplies last.

Address: 1070 West Georgia St., Vancouver

Vancouver is Awesome


This bone-chilling Metro Vancouver ghost tour takes you through a haunted tattoo parlour


A legendary hanging Judge, one of BC’s oldest houses and a haunted tattoo parlour are just a few of the highlights on this bone-chilling tour of New Westminster.

The Ghostly New Westminster Tour kicks off every Saturday at 8 pm for 90 minutes of spooktacular tales. For those who haven’t explored the city, its a fascinating way to get a paranormal perspective of the area. The entire tour is outdoors, however, so guests must be able to walk/stand for approximately 90 minutes.

Naturally, this tour has its rather unnerving parts, and therefore it isn’t recommended for anyone under the age of 12. However, if minors do attend, they must be accompanied by an adult.

The tours go rain or shine – the organizer notes that this Vancouver, after all – and that tours will not be refunded within 24 hours of the scheduled tour.

You can contact the organizer here with any further questions.

Ghostly New Westminster Tour

When: Every week on Saturday at 8:00pm – 9:30pm
Where: Meet at Hyack Square, 800 Columbia Street
Cost: $20

Vancouver is Awesome


Baden’s art shines lens on the beautiful and banal

Vancouver Art Gallery exhibit explores form, humour and the absurd

Vancouver Art Gallery curator Grant Arnold alongside Mowry Baden’s piece, “Prone Gyres" | Photo: Dan Toulgoet

There’s a section of the Vancouver Art Gallery that looks like it was hit by a tornado.

A bunch of dollies are somehow interconnected, cheap mattresses are configured in a fortress-like fashion and a mirror swallows your reflection whole.

Is this heady, high-concept art or just a bunch of absurdity to make you pause, think and laugh?

The answer is found somewhere in the middle.

Rolled out March 9 at the VAG, Mowry Baden’s 15-piece exhibit represents 50 years of re-defining the ordinary and giving life to the unextraordinary.


Mowry Baden's 1994 piece, Cheap Sleeps Columbine. - Vancouver Art Gallery

Take Cheap Sleeps Columbine, for example, a series of low-cost mattresses stacked on top of one another that resemble a fort made at a 10-year-old’s sleepover party.

“It’s a sheltered enclosure, something that has bargain references, but the bed plays off the place where you’re sick or you’re having sex,” explains VAG curator Grant Arnold. “There’s a notion of comfort being provided but on very basic terms.”

Then there’s Marsupial, a wheelbarrow with cloth wrapped over top of it in a dome-like shape. Once inside, the viewer’s sense of sound and sight is completely limited and distorted. 

“It’s not like these works don’t have any meaning, but there is a kind of open-endedness to it,” Arnold said. “And it does really foreground the fact that meaning comes out of the interaction between the viewer and the work.”


Mowry Baden's 2011 piece, Marsupial. - Mark Alldritt

A former Vancouverite and UBC professor, Baden’s been at it in the art world since the 1960s and received the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts in 2006.

His work straddles minimalism and conceptual art and can be found in public spaces across North America, including in Victoria, where he now lives. A trio of Baden’s sculptures, entitled Fulcrum of Vision, are on display near BC Place on Beatty Street.

Arnold said Baden’s work shifted from the sheer abstract to an emphasis on the visual side as his career progressed, though one constant has remained.

“His work has always been about how we perceive space, how we relate to space, how our bodies react to space,” Arnold said.

Created in 2011, Ukulele reinforces that point. The piece has next to nothing in common with the stringed instrument, and is instead a dark enclosure that shoots ping pong balls at the viewer.

Calyx, on the other hand, is a mirror-like creation that can give the viewer a mild LSD flashback. The 2008 piece has a sensor that measures the viewer’s height and then distorts that reflected image into a series of psychedelic shapes and colours before disappearing entirely.

Far out, man.

Baden’s exhibit is on now and runs until June 9.

For more stories from the Vancouver Courier, visit here.


What are we reading? March 14, 2019


Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.


Kirk LaPointe, editor-in-chief:

Ah, internet, you could have been special. Instead. . . - Public Books


Beto O’Rourke has emerged as an intriguing presidential candidate. If he wins, he says he was made for it, which is why this profile might madden as many as it might gladden. There are plenty of elements missing from his platform. But make no mistake: he is aiming to shake up the race. - Vanity Fair


Uniqlo’s fast expansion in Greater Vancouver has bucked a retail trend. The outlets are successfully courting American millennials, maybe more, and this piece explains it away. - The Atlantic


Comedy’s Amy Schumer is a major target, in part because she plays the game her way. This profile provides a little more insight and suggests maybe she does care what you think of her. - The New York Times


Hayley Woodin, reporter:

Hong Kong is home to the world’s least affordable housing market. The average wait for public housing is five and a half years. Consequently, more people are seeking shelter in steel containers that are not exactly legal. They aren’t exactly cheap, either. - BNN Bloomberg


This short video argues we are seeing a new kind of worldwide scramble for Africa. - The Economist


Emma Crawford Hampel, online editor:

Scientists have discovered a shape that blocks all sound, even your co-workers. A small 3D-printed ring was placed at the end of a PVC pipe. The ring dampened 94% of the sound of a loudspeaker booming through the pipe without the use of foam or any other noise-cancelling material. - Fast Company


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

As someone who had to retake my Math 30 exam in high school because of my slippery grasp of numbers (I finally passed – thanks, Mrs. Haig), I can only admire the achievement of Google employee Emma Haruka Iwao, who with her team just set a Guinness world record for calculating the most digits of Pi. The new record of 31.4 trillion decimal places left the old 22.4 trillion digit record in the dust. That’s a difference of … figure it out for yourself.  - Washington Post


As I write this, MPs in the U.K. are slated to vote on holding a second Brexit referendum. The question is, if another vote is held, will the same kind of foreign interference and military-grade psyops that tainted the first referendum be allowed to hijack the process again? - Guardian


Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

A lot of informative late night reading for renewable energy fans in this Renewable Energy Data Book. Best read by candlelight. - U.S. Department of Energy


The Iris program and other aerospace technology promise to make commercial air travel greener. We are hoping that technology can help make it safer, too – European Space Agency


Glen Korstrom, reporter:

West Vancouver residents take notice. The rationale behind the recent successful opposition to a new B-Line service in West Vancouver was flawed. Many said their opposition was in part because removed parking spots would hurt retailers. Spanish bank BBVA, however, determined that Madrid’s experiment of closing its central business district to cars led to a 9.5% increase in transactions on a main shopping street during the holiday season. The air was cleaner too. - Forbes


Working at a Vancouver International Airport fast food restaurant is not a glamour job, but many of those workers enjoy and take pride in what they do. With the airport authority flipping contracts, however, many workers fear they will be out of work, or that they will have to forego years of salary increases in order to keep their positions under new owners. These situations will be front and centre when the B.C. government brings in changes to the Labour Code later this year. - The Tyee


Tyler Orton, reporter:

When Facebook goes down, an economy goes with it. - The Verge


For those wondering what it takes to be in the 1% around the world … considerably less income required in Canada than the U.S. The numbers speak to the income gap here compared with our southern neighbour. But this also breaks down just what the 1% are spending their dollars on. - Bloomberg