The Poor Creature in Whitehorse on Nov. 1. A hearing to determine whether the business remains or leaves Yukonstruct wrapped up last week. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukonstruct, Poor Creature wrap up legal arguments

Justice Ron Veale is expected to give his decision on the case next week.

Lawyers for the Yukonstruct Society and The Poor Creature wrapped up their arguments on Dec. 6 in a case that will determine the future of the café in the society’s downtown Whitehorse building.

James Tucker, representing Yukonstruct, urged Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale to find that café owner Brioni Connolly is an overholding tenant, and that Yukonstruct has the right to repossess the space she’s been using.

Vincent Larochelle, representing Connolly, said that his client was simply seeking an equitable outcome, and to be at least given a few more months to find a new location for her business.

The parties have been locked in a landlord tenant dispute that became public in October, when Connolly shared a letter she received from the Yukonstruct board stating her one-year lease would not be renewed at the end of the month.

Connolly claims her lease was renewed for another year, or that at least Yukonstruct acted in a way that made her believe it was. She has continued operating the café.

Yukonstruct, meanwhile, has argued that Connolly’s lease expired Oct. 31 with no discussions about renewal.

Continuing his submissions from the day before, Larochelle said that Yukonstruct executive director Lana Selbee and operations director Victoria Hampson had a duty to speak up when it became clear that Connolly was under the impression she was staying past Oct. 31.

When that point was, Larochelle said, was up for the court to decide. He did, however, give several suggestions of when that might have been, including Connolly asking to be put on a waitlist to have a sign for the café added to a display outside Yukonstruct’s building and Connolly seeking to hire staff into March 2020.

“The remedy sought here is an equitable remedy,” he told the court.

Connolly is seeking an estoppel — basically, asking the court to stop Yukonstruct from evicting her because while it’s within its legal right, it would be unfair to do so.

Connolly will be grateful no matter how long of an estoppel is granted, Larochelle said.

In his reply, Tucker said that most of the factors Larochelle claimed was evidence of Yukonstruct knowing Connolly was being blindsided by the decision to not renew the lease was simply Yukonstruct trying to be kind.

Tucker said he didn’t think there was any doubt that Yukonstruct and The Poor Creature’s relationship had “serious problems.” Hampson took the time to sit down with Connolly in September to try and fix the issues, Tucker said, but Connolly has now turned and is claiming the conversation amounted to her lease being renewed.

In reply to Larochelle’s argument that Yukonstruct didn’t tell Connolly her lease was ending, Tucker said Yukonstruct did, in fact — the end-date was on the lease the day Connolly signed it.

Intention and words matter, Tucker argued, and in this case, the intention of the September meeting was to try and fix the relationship, not renew it.

“(Hampson’s) mistake was being nice,” he said.

Tucker argued that the court finding that meeting and Yukonstruct giving Connolly written notice of her lease not being renewed as grounds for estoppel would set a dangerous precedent. Landlords, he said, would stop trying to work with their tenants on fixing issues and giving them notices, and instead would just wait until the lease expires.

“They’ll just turn around on Nov. 1 and say, ‘You’re still here?’” he said.

He added that if the court finds there’s an estoppel, which he urged it not to, Connolly should be given no more time than the end of December to leave.

Veale is expected to deliver his decision in court in mid-December, with written reasons to follow.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Small BusinessYukon courts

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

g
Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Whitehorse RCMP will provide internet safety training due to an uptick of child luring offences. (iStock photo)
RCMP hosting internet safety webinars for parents and caregivers

The webinars will take place on March 23 and 25

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

Most Read