Glenayre accused of sinking Vancouver neighbourhood

Jake Bergen has that sinking feeling.

He says his Vancouver neighbourhood is literally subsiding into the peat and Glenayre Technologies Inc. is to blame.

According to Bergen, Glenayre’s unfinished high-rise office building

has caused the surrounding industrial area, which includes a warehouse owned and managed by Bergen’s E Court V Holdings Inc., to sink by as much as 14 inches.

Unified communications provider Glenayre began developing the building and its five-story underground parking garage in 1997. Bergen says the parkade began to leak, prompting Glenayre to install an underground pump to flush out the water, which caused the peat land around the building to sink.

“”They were supposed to repair he damage they created,”” Bergen says, explaining the company said it would re-purge the land. “”That entire area is all bog. They dug through the bog and blasted through rock.””

Other suits that have been filed against Glenayre by businesses in the area, according to Bergen, though not all neighbouring companies are necessarily aware of the Glenayre situation.

Bergen says consultants and employees of Glenayre, which was founded in Vancouver but has since relocated its headquarters to Atlanta by way of Charlotte, N.C., advised the company that digging five stories down was a precarious proposition. “”Even their own insurance company withdrew their coverage,”” he says.

Glenayre CEO Eric Doggett disputes Bergen’s claims. He admits Glenayre is looking at options associated with the Vancouver property, but has not vacated the facility.

“”We have staff operating in the Vancouver facility today,”” he says. “”We don’t agree that the comments and inferences made by Mr. Bergen are factual or accurate.””

Doggett said he had nothing else to say about the situation, except that it was “”not appropriate to comment on issues before the court.””

“”There’s a lot of people in the area that don’t even know why they’re sinking,”” he says. “”Common sense (says) you wouldn’t build that kind of parking structure in that area.””

Bergen says Glenayre has since capped off the unused parkade, ceased manufacturing in Vancouver in 1999, shut down its Vancouver operation in May 2001 and is trying to sell the property.

“”They had agreed to compensate the neighbours,”” says Bergen, whose company filed a statement of claim against Glenayre with the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Dec. 2001. “”But when they shut down the entire operation in Vancouver, they abandoned all their agreements.

“”They’re just saying they have a lot of lawyers and a lot of money to spend on lawyers.””

Glenayre has had a rough ride these last 12 months. In May 2001, the company was sued by Research in Motion for alleged patent infringement. A week later Glenayre said it was getting out of the wireless messaging business to focus on its enhanced services platform and subsequently laid off more than half of its staff.

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