Saturday, December 3, 2022
December 3, 2022

Lawsuit launched over Seabreeze

A dispute over the former Seabreeze Inne spilled over into court last week as one Salt Spring Island charitable society filed legal action against another.  
Salt Spring Island Community Services (SSICS) is being sued by the Lady Minto Hospital Foundation (LMHF), which has owned the Seabreeze property since March. In a notice of civil claim filed Wednesday, Oct. 26, LMHF asked the B.C. Supreme Court for an injunction and damages resulting from SSICS and “its agents and representatives” allegedly trespassing at the former hotel.  
The foundation is also seeking a declaration by the court that SSICS is wrongfully in possession of the property, “and that the plaintiff is entitled to vacant possession,” as well as a writ of possession and legal costs.  
A second part of the lawsuit is aimed at nearly a dozen named and unnamed individuals allegedly occupying rooms at the Seabreeze; in that action, LMHF is seeking a similar injunction against trespassing, declaration of wrongful possession, and writ, but no damages or costs. 
In its claim, LMHF alleges neither its lease agreement with BC Housing nor that agency’s earlier lease with former property owner 1035525 BC LTD gave the Provincial Rental Housing Corporation (PRHC) — the property-holding entity administered by BC Housing — rights to enter into the sort of residential tenancy agreements governed by the province’s Residential Tenancy Act.  
Asserting its entitlement to possession of its property, LMHF argues both leases only granted PRHC the right to use the Seabreeze for transitional or emergency shelter accommodation; neither of those kinds of housing arrangements are covered by the Act. Trespassing and damages occurred, according to the filing, after occupants remained and SSICS allegedly continued providing services at the Seabreeze after the lease ended, despite a notice of trespass. 
LMHF purchased the former hotel with the intent of renovating it, once vacant, to provide housing for hospital staff; the lawsuit alleges the foundation suffered damages as a result of the trespass, including “being unable to renovate the Seabreeze Inne to provide much needed housing for health care workers on Salt Spring Island, and the threatened loss of a major grant if construction of the housing for health care workers is delayed.” 
SSICS executive director Rob Grant declined comment on behalf of the agency, due to the pending litigation, but said SSICS was aware of the lawsuit and would be responding. 
Three people living at the Seabreeze made applications for dispute resolution to B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Branch in September, seeking an order confirming the Residential Tenancy Act applied to their living situations; that hearing is set to come before an arbitrator in December. 
BC Housing made a request this month to the board of trustees of the North Salt Springs Waterworks District (NSSWD) for 12 months of temporary water service to the residential units at 154 Kings Lane — intended as a stopgap housing solution for people formerly living at the Seabreeze. Those units, according to BC Housing, are anticipated to be vacated as supported residents are moved to 161 Drake Road when that project is complete — in 2023, BC Housing said. NSSWD trustees tabled the request Thursday, Oct. 27, to seek legal advice before responding.  

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