2 new lawsuits filed as questions around affordable B.C. home project debacle mount

2 new lawsuits filed as questions around affordable B.C. home project debacle mount

British Columbia

B.C. Housing filed two new lawsuits against people accused of violating the terms of an affordable home ownership agreement this week, even as the minister for the Crown agency insisted problems with the program were fixed.

Housing minister says buyers came to affordable home buyer project before safeguards put in place

Jason Proctor · CBC News


The exterior of the 135-unit Vivid condominium building in Victoria.

B.C. Housing has filed two new lawsuits in relation to Victoria’s Vivid condominium building, which was a pilot project for a program intended to help middle-income families enter B.C.’s housing market. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

B.C. Housing has filed two new lawsuits this week against people accused of abusing an affordable home ownership program — even as the minister for the Crown agency insisted problems with the scheme were long fixed.

Both civil claims were filed in B.C. Supreme Court Tuesday against buyers who allegedly bought into Victoria’s 135-unit Vivid building through a real estate agent who is herself being sued for alleged violations of terms drawn up to ensure the cut-rate condos went to “qualified buyers.”

The newest claims bring the total number of lawsuits filed in relation to Vivid to 15.

And in an additional twist to the somewhat confusing math around the project, B.C. Housing also confirmed Wednesday that 19 units have been sold back to the agency for their original purchase price — less legal costs and taxes. 

“This is unacceptable and obviously infuriating for everyone involved,” Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon told CBC’s The Early Edition.

‘Going after the folks who broke the rules’

Kahlon responded Wednesday to outrage over a CBC report on alleged violations of B.C.’s Affordable Home Ownership Program by people who already owned property — and who allegedly rented out their Vivid units instead of living in them as they’d agreed.

The lawsuits raise questions about due diligence on the project and B.C. Housing’s claims in 2021 — when construction completed — that Vivid would be “great news” for middle-income families.

WATCH | Why B.C. Housing is suing condo owners: 

B.C. Housing sues the owners of affordable housing units

A series of lawsuits filed by B.C. Housing allege condo units in Victoria, meant to support new homeowners, were purchased by people who already owned property — in some cases multiple homes worth millions.

In a news release issued at the time, the agency insisted purchasers “could not own property anywhere else in the world” and “had to agree to live in the property for two years before they can sell.”

But in explaining a somewhat tortured timeline, Kahlon said Wednesday that those requirements were not actually in place when Vivid began in 2016 under the Liberal government.

“When the project was launched, there was no provisions involved. People could buy property if they had other investments. Their income wasn’t really tested,” he said.

A South Asian man delivers a news conference in front of dozens of cameras in an outdoor environment.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon — pictured here in July 2022 — laid the blame for problems with the Vivid condominium project at the feet of the previous government and the developer. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Kahlon claimed all that changed in 2018 when the NDP government took over and placed covenants on the properties requiring buyers to agree to live in their units for at least two years.

He said the developer was “responsible for identifying people and making sure of their incomes and that they had no other primary residence.”

“Part of the challenge we have here is that that process happened and clearly we have individuals who broke the rules. In some cases, we had people who had investments elsewhere. In some cases, we had people using real estate corporations to hide their incomes,” he said.

“It’s infuriating and we’re going after the folks who broke the rules to obtain this housing.”

A home on Icarus Drive

In a statement to CBC, developer Byron Chard said Vivid was a pilot that “pre-dated” the Affordable Home Ownership Program as it now stands.

“Purchasers at Vivid were required to have lived in B.C. for 12 months at the time of purchase, earn no more than $150,000 a year, and qualify for mortgage financing with a 10 per cent deposit,” Chard says.

“At the time of purchase, buyers committed to living in the building for two full years after completion as their primary residence.”

WATCH | SFU City Program director Andy Yan on lessons learned from B.C. Housing lawsuits: 

Legal lessons to be learned from alleged abuse of housing program

Over a dozen people allegedly abused a government program meant to help middle-income families find affordable housing. SFU City Program director Andy Yan says there are lessons to be learned from this especially as the province is investing in new affordable housing programs this year.

According to one of the lawsuits filed this week, B.C. Housing does not know the current address of a woman who paid $503,280 for her unit at Vivid.

The claim says the woman was a manager living in Nanaimo at the time her purchase completed.

According to court documents, a woman with the same name was also named in a series of claims and counterclaims launched over plans to purchase and transform the Nanaimo marina into a waterfront development featuring float homes and seniors’ independent living.

The court documents described her as being “engaged in the business of assisting Chinese nationals finding business opportunities in Canada to facilitate immigration.”

Documents from yet another court case name the woman as one of the owners of a Victoria condominium in the same building as another couple who are also being sued in relation to their purchase of a condominium at Vivid.

According to the Vivid documents, the couple own four other condos in Burnaby and Victoria as well as a home on the same Nanaimo street as the address provided by the other woman — Icarus Drive. 


Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and the justice system extensively.

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