The local papers have yet to take note and make mention of it, but the Windsor Hotel court case against the city got underway the week before last; and it could have serious financial implications for New Westminster taxpayers with damages to the Windsor Hotel’s former owner, Nirmal Walia, said to be potentially in the millions of dollars.
In his suit, Walia contends that promises were made to him by the city to the effect that if he agreed to sell the Windsor Hotel property on Columbia Street to a developer he would be allowed to move the hotel’s liquor store license to a new location on 12th Street and that he would receive the necessary rezoning to do so.
Sources tell us that Walia has already been on the stand, and so has former New Westminster City Planner Tim Whitehead who headed up the city’s Development Services Department when the Windsor Hotel / 12th Street liquor store issue was unfolding.
On the stand, Whitehead reportedly made several negative comments about the state of the New Westminster Planning Department and its staff prior to his arrival on the scene.
Whitehead’s comments on the stand are said to be quite a departure from statements he made in his examination for discovery wherein his response to many of the questions put to him was, “I don’t remember, I don’t recall.”
For those interested in attending the court proceedings, Walia’s lawyers are expected to continue their cross-examination of Whitehead all day on Tuesday (July 6th).
Following Whitehead on stand, those listed as possible witnesses in the case are Mayor Wayne Wright and planners Steven Scheving and Jim Hurst.
To say the least it’s going to be very interesting to watch this case unfold. For one thing, elected officials cannot promise the outcome of any public hearing process before it takes place as has been alleged. So if Nirmal Walia did receive assurances that he would get a rezoning and be able to move his liquor store license to 12th Street it raises some very serious questions indeed.
We’ll continue to keep our eyes and ears open and bring you new information as we receive it.