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Trial begins over cancelled Richmond condo presale contracts

One of the 37 plaintiffs in the breach of contract trial testified Monday she "lost a lot of sleep" after the 2019 cancellation.
The trial will take 19 days.

One of the dozens of presale condo buyers whose contract was terminated by a developer in 2019 testified Monday in B.C. Supreme Court that she cannot spend as much time taking care of her mother and aunt as she had planned. 

Angela Tsang is one of 37 plaintiffs in the breach of contract trial against Anderson Square Holdings Ltd., and its directors, Keung Sun Sunny Ho and Jia An Jeremy Liang. 

Tsang was the first witness in the scheduled 19-day trial in Vancouver before Justice Kevin Loo. She testified that she agreed in December 2018 to pay a deposit on the $552,000 unit in the planned 15-storey Alfa in Richmond city centre, at 8151 Anderson Road. 

Tsang, a registered nurse, said she had discovered the project sales centre after a meal with her mother. She found the price and location were ideal, close to her mother and aunt and with parks nearby to walk her dog. 

“Given my work, it's very chaotic, very physically demanding, and I work really long hours so I needed a really quiet place that I can unwind and keep peaceful,” Tsang said in court. “It was one of the few places that I found in that area that was affordable. Everything else that I looked at was smaller square footage, it wasn't an open concept. It was about $150,000 more usually and it wasn’t even brand new.” 

But, in July 2019, the developer cancelled the contracts, claiming it was facing “serious and significant circumstances” beyond its control that made it no longer economical to continue. 

After the 2019 cancellation, Tsang consulted her real estate agent and a lawyer. She eventually bought in Delta, which means she must endure Massey Tunnel traffic jams and higher fuel costs to commute to work and to visit her mother and aunt.

“I lost a lot of sleep and I ended up having to change all my plans and I needed to find a place, so I ended up purchasing my new place in Delta, in May of 2020, and moved in in August of 2020,” Tsang testified.

Wes McMillan, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the court that Anderson Square made efforts in 2016 and 2017 to obtain financing from the Canadian Western Bank, the Laurentian Bank and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and G&F Financial. But McMillan said efforts to obtain financing from those lenders ceased no later than January 2018.

By the time it decided to terminate the contracts, Anderson Square had obtained $40 million to $50 million via companies owned by Liang’s father.

“Put simply, the evidence will show that the reasons given for terminating the presale contracts were at best misleading, and at worst fully untrue,” McMillan said. 

McMillan said the defendants pointed to rising construction costs as a basis for terminating the contracts, but had paid out $16.6 million to Scott Construction under a $37.8-million fixed-price contract. 

“The evidence will show that financing was not a concern,” McMillan said.

Under a separate action, Scott Construction is suing Anderson Square for $4.6 million.

In May 2022, the plaintiffs unsuccessfully sought an injunction to allow Anderson Square to complete and sell the project but prevent distribution of profits until 30 days after the final judgment of the case.

During that case, the court heard that presale purchasers had received an aggregate $1.944 million in deposit refunds in August 2021.