Global Transportation Hub sues Brightenview for $3M in back rent

The embattled company built up arrears for an office building beside a controversial megamall, where vendors now owe $465K in back taxes to Regina.

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The Global Transportation Hub (GTH) is suing one of its tenants — a company once accused of misleading immigrants to set up shop in a mall that’s now deep in tax arrears with the City of Regina — for nearly $3 million in back rent.

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In 2017, Brightenview Development International Inc. began building the $45-million Global Trade & Exhibition Centre (GTEC) , a condominium-style wholesale mall geared toward Chinese investors that later attracted NDP Opposition allegations of operating as an “immigration scam.”  Brightenview also leases a neighbouring parcel of land owned by the GTH for what were previously its offices in a now-abandoned building.

In a lawsuit filed at Regina’s Court of Queen’s Bench on Sept. 28, the GTH alleges that Brightenview abandoned the leased office space and is no longer conducting business there. According to the lawsuit, the company has defaulted on rent payment to the GTH, building up a debt of $2,968,598. The GTH is seeking a judgment for that amount, plus legal costs.

Brightenview has not made a payment since November 2019, the GTH alleges. None of the allegations, as contained in court documents, have been proven or tested in court at this point, and Brightenview has not yet filed a statement of defence laying out its position. It did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Leader-Post seeking an explanation of the rent default.

The office building, which has the appearance of a cinder block stuck into the Prairie soil, looks entirely empty. Last November, the GTH had posted a notice to Brightenview on the door, where it remains. At that time, the company had already built up hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of arrears for rent and taxes. In the notice, the GTH informed Brightenview that it was changing the locks on the building as a result.

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A courier sticker has since been posted over the notice. “Sorry we missed you,” it says, from back in April.

The GTEC property is just steps to the west. The wholesale mall remains occupied by vendors displaying everything from tiles to cardboard castles. But abandoned stalls dot the halls. The GTEC was previously at the centre of a slew of investigative reports by the CBC asserting Brightenview had misled Chinese nationals into paying large deposits for spots there as a quick and risk-free path to permanent residency.

The government subsequently changed its immigrant nominee program to exclude investors in the GTEC and similar business condos — a decision the NDP framed during question period in the legislature in November 2019 as an admission the project has been “an immigration scam at the GTH.” The government subsequently defended the change, saying it was based on evidence the immigration model used by the GTEC was not as successful as alternatives.

The GTEC operates as a condo, with vendors owning title to individual units. On Wednesday, Regina city council’s executive committee discussed taxes owing on 43 of those units. According to a city statement, the value of the city’s liens for the back taxes is $465,615.54. Nineteen of the units are owned by a single corporation, while the rest are under private names.

But the plot of land itself is owned by Brightenview, according to land title documents that report $3.1 million in mortgages as well as a tax lien from the city.

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