Court approves damages against DTES condo developer
In a default judgment, a court ordered a Downtown Eastside developer to pay damages in the defamation and breach of contract lawsuit brought by the man behind memorial plaques honouring missing women in the DTES. This condo development is at 138 E Hastings St., Vancouver, photographed May 4, 2014. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)
A Downtown Eastside non-profit's founder is claiming six-figure damages and costs after a judge granted him a default victory in his defamation and breach of contract case against a condominium developer.
Sean Kirkham, founder of the Canadian Foundation for Creative Development and Innovation, told 24 hours that on Thursday he applied for a lien of $160,000 on Sequel 138 Development Corp.'s lot at 138 East Hastings St. until the court determines how much he is owed.
The Supreme Court of B.C. issued the judgment on Jan. 14 after the developer didn't respond to the lawsuit from Kirkham, who made headlines after unproven allegations of financial impropriety from Sequel 138 contractor and former CFCDI board member Michael Matthews.
Kirkham pled guilty to 10 fraud-related charges dating back to 2007, but says he’s made a fresh start and the non-profit is part of his “restitution” to society. Now he's lost his job and is in process of dissolving the organization.
“I give people the benefit of the doubt to change — I certainly have,” he said. “When allegations like this come up, of course they hurt. It impacted how other people perceive me. Do I become a pariah and crawl into a hole, or continue my life and clear my name? That's why I decided to file these claims.”
Matthews, also named in the lawsuit, issued letters on April 16 apologizing and retracting the allegations, as part of a court settlement.
“I apologize for calling you a sociopath who takes advantage of missing women,” Matthews wrote.
Another letter referenced CFCDI’s missing women memorial stones project, with Matthews apologizing “for making certain statements about the mismanagement of the Living Memorial Project, as I was not aware of the full extent of the facts at that time and in light of this I retract my statement.”
The Sequel 138 development is planned for the site of the demolished Pantages Playhouse, but activists say the condominiums would upscale the heart of the Downtown Eastside. Developer Marc Williams did not respond to email and phone requests for comment by press time.