A judge has ruled against the former tenant of Hangar 17 at the Langley Regional Airport and upheld their eviction. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

A judge has ruled against the former tenant of Hangar 17 at the Langley Regional Airport and upheld their eviction. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Judge rules against Langley Airport tenant in hangar eviction battle

The tenant said they were losing access to millions of dollars worth of recent renovations

A court battle that included allegations of teenagers riding Segways across Langley Airport runways and secret residential suites has ended in legal victor for the Township.

Justice Warren Milman ruled against Airside Event Spaces on Wednesday, dismissing the company’s attempt to overturn an eviction notice that pushed them out of Hangar 17 at the Langley Regional Airport at the end of August.

The court battle was the end of a long and increasingly acrimonious relationship between Airside’s owner and airport management.

Milman’s judgment summed up the history of the hangar’s lease.

Howard Nielsen and his wife developed an interest in flying, took lessons, and bought their own airplane in 2013. Nielsen, searching for a suitable place to store it, leased a hangar with two bays at the Langley Regional Airport, which is owned by the Township.

The lease was with Airside, a company owned by a trust Nielsen controls.

READ MORE: Township claims Langley Airport tenant let youth group use hangar as clubhouse

The 14-year lease included clauses that the tenant could not use the hangar for anything other than aircraft storage and repair, without written permission, and that subletting also required prior permission from the Township.

Alterations and additions to the hangar required proper permits and advance permission, and the Township had the right to inspect the hangar at any time during normal business hours.

All of those clauses would be violated, according to the Township.

By September of 2014, a group called Youth Unlimited was using the hangar for programming for at-risk teens and young adults. They would stay there until the Township cut off the lease at the end of this August.

“The Township received complaints that members of the youth group were using restricted areas of the airport, such as using Segways to cross active runways and other actively used flight areas,” the judgment notes.

Yet Milman also noted that the Township never served Airside with a written notice asking them to remove the youth group.

Nielsen and a manager for Youth Unlimited suggested their presence was tolerated by airport management for years, but current manager Carol Madill told the court via a deposition that there had been multiple conversations asking them to move out over the years.

Then there was the illegal residential suite, which had been installed in the hangar before Airside took over the lease.

Milman noted that Nielsen admits to allowing it to be used three times, including in 2014 and 2015 for a family of refugees, again from 2016 to 2018 for a family from his church, and in 2020 by a couple who were paying $1,000 a month in rent.

In 2018, then-airport manager Guy Miller sent an email to Nielsen making it clear residential tenants were not allowed, Milman wrote.

Finally, Airside rented out much of the hanger to the Langley Flying Club in June of 2020, again without getting permission from the Township.

Nielsen’s evidence was that the LFC was dealing with seeking permission for the sublease from the Township.

In June of 2020, the Township’s lawyers contacted Airside and served formal notice of a variety of breaches of the lease contract.

That led to a lengthy series of contentious emails between Nielsen and various Township lawyers and staff members.

Milman noted that Nielsen directed “vitriol” at airport manager Carol Madill in particular, ending emails with #carolmustgo!

“The unmistakable impression one gets from reading them, and from Airside’s course of conduct generally, is that Airside was disdainful of airport management and of the Township’s rights under the lease,” Milman wrote.

Airside’s lawyer argued that it was unjust to terminate the lease because of the crushing financial loss would be out of proportion to the breaches of the contract.

The lease was set to run until 2027, and Airside estimated it had poured more than $2 million into construction improvements, including a larger second hangar, on the site.

But Milman said that it is “problematic” for Airside’s case that some of those improvements were made without permission from the Township, another lease violation.

The judge also pointed to repeated refusals to allow Township staff to inspect the hangar over the summer of 2020.

“Finally, I also agree with the Township that the gravity of that misconduct was exacerbated considerably by the offensive content and tone of Mr. Nielsen’s communications in response to the Township’s legitimate efforts to enforce the lease,” Milman wrote.

He dismissed Airside’s petition to overturn the eviction and cancellation of the lease.

BC Supreme CourtCourtLangleyLangley Township

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

Just Posted

When Langley City resident Dale Attrell, 92, seen here walking in Douglas Park on Saturday, Jan. 10, started a walking club for seniors, it filled up quickly. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Outrunning COVID: a Langley City senior starts a walking club

When Dale Attrell launched a group for older people to go on walks together, it filled up quickly

Langley’s Jim Orlowski, a regular contributor to Through Your Lens, shared this picture of some bird swimming around in Brydon Lagoon. They were spotted while he was walking along the trail in the Nicomekl flood plains. They frequently cross paths with dozens of other walkers and park visitors enjoying the trail on a bright winter day. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Bird friends from Brydon

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

Mark Chandler, outside of his extradition hearing at the Vancouver Supreme Court. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley condo builder’s fraud sentencing in U.S. delayed due to COVID-19

Mark Chandler’s own lawyer contracted COVID-19 in December

People have noticed pine siskins dying in the area, part of a trend of larger numbers of the finch flocking to the area about every five years. The larger numbers result in crowding and increased spread of salmonella. (Wikipedia photo)
Langley birdwatchers seeing dead finch species in higher numbers

Pine siskins are in the area in larger numbers. They are prone to salmonella which is fatal for them

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

sdf
Another Mission student arrested for assault, in 2nd case of in-school violence this week

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Most Read