Creekside Market may sue landlord over Games losses 

Lack of parking meant fewer customers while cost of doing business increased

The post-Olympic era is being written in the courts as Sea to Sky businesses look to receive compensation for their Games-time losses.

First Coast Range Heliskiing in Pemberton filed a lawsuit against VANOC and the Integrated Security Unit for forcing clients to go through security checks before heading out on backcountry ski excursions.

Now Creekside Market, located just outside one of Whistler's busiest Olympic venues, is considering a lawsuit against CNL Lifestyle Properties, its U.S.-based landlord, over losses that put them 35 per cent below the profits they made in the same period last year.

Jerry Marsh, the owner of Creekside Market, admits he's considering it.

"We've put them on alert that we're looking at that," he said. "We sent them a letter before the Olympics... saying we're very concerned with the loss of our parking.

"We've sent them updating letters of how much we've been down, as to how much, we just sent them the latest one for February, percentage wise. And if it goes to litigation, if they don't come out with some solution, it'll probably go that way."

As Marsh tells it, the Olympics haven't been particularly kind to the Creekside Market.

"It's been, as far as business, a negative impact for sure," he said. "Our business is down, some weeks 40 per cent. ...They closed our parking lot is the big thing, so very limited access. They started outfitting our top level on Jan. 4, right after the New Year. We did have some limited parking down in P2 through January, but that really affected our business."

That was before VANOC took over the entire parking lot at Creekside. Marsh estimates that business was down 40 per cent for the two weeks before the Games started but was only down 18 to 20 per cent during the Olympics.

Marsh said he's talking to lawyers and looking over his lease, which contains a clause that would have given him compensation had VANOC taken over the facility completely. The grocery store stayed open through the Games but the Olympics took over his parking lot.

He said that his lease permits him a minimum of 85 spaces designated for shoppers, but it's not clear whether that applies to the market alone or to all the businesses in Franz's Trail, whose spaces are owned by CNL Lifestyle Properties.

"It's not really VANOC that we're going after, it's our landlords that turned our parkade over to VANOC," Marsh said.

He added that few of his customers take the bus to buy groceries.

"You need parking," he said. "(When) people come to buy bags of groceries, they're not going to take the bus. Parking is a huge part of our business. When they cut our parking off, it was a huge impact on our business."

But it wasn't only parking. Marsh said the cost of doing business went up during the Games. His business could only take deliveries between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. so he had to pay for a night crew, something he doesn't usually have.

"Not only was our business down, our cost of business went up," he said.

Linda Clark, a Whistler-based property manager working on behalf of CNL, would not offer any comment.

"I can't have a conversation with you, it's a tenant-landlord issue," she said.




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