Plan B landowners warned, sell or face expropriation

Ryan Ross
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Henry Atkinson, 7, of Charlottetown holds up a handmade sign at a protest outside Province House, in which the crowd was protesting the planned realignment of the Trans-Canada Highway. Guardian file photo.

The government is putting landowners along the Churchill highway re-alignment route on notice that it's time to accept their offers or be forced to sell.

Brian Thompson, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, said letters were going out this week to the eight or nine landowners who haven't accepted negotiated deals to buy their land for the project.

"Those letters will reference expropriation as an avenue government may need to follow to keep the project start date on target," he said.

The land purchases are part of the final steps before construction starts on the highway re-alignment that has come to be known as Plan B.

Government expects to pay about $4 million to buy the properties it needs for the development.

That money is on top of the $16 million the provincial and federal governments are splitting to build the new highway.

Of the properties the government is buying, 10 have houses on them and eight are occupied.

Only one of the houses is in the direct path of the re-alignment and because of the project's planned work schedule, the owner doesn't have to move right away.

Thompson said the government has been negotiating with landowners along the re-alignment since January.

"We've got to ensure that property acquisitions continue to take place in a timely manner to make sure the project's start date's not compromised," he said.

As of Thursday, the province was still in negotiations with eight or nine property owners, but it has reached the point where the government has to make sure it buys the properties soon, Thompson said.

"Before the end of the month is our target."

"We've got to ensure that property acquisitions continue to take place in a timely manner to make sure the project's start date's not compromised," Brian Thompson, a spokesman for the Transportation Department

The government also sent out one letter to a landowner who has refused to accept any offers.

It states the province will expropriate if he doesn't accept the final offer.

Thompson said negotiations can still happen during the expropriation process, but it ensures the project can move forward in a timely manner.

"Expropriation is something that we would certainly like to avoid, if we can," he said.

The government hired independent, private sector appraisers to assess the properties to ensure a fair price for the landowners and taxpayers, Thompson said.

Any deals will also include moving costs for people who live in the affected area, legal fees and money for mortgage penalties if they apply to anyone who is penalized for paying off their mortgage early.

Landowners who get the letter have about a week to respond before the government sends another and Thompson said the province may start the expropriation process as early as Aug. 22 for any properties for which they don't get agreements.

Leo Creamer, the department's provincial land manager, said the government has expropriated for projects before, but is usually able to negotiate land sales.

"Generally it's pretty rare," he said.

Before the project can proceed to the construction phase it has to pass an environmental assessment, the results of which the province will present at a public meeting Aug. 27.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

 

Organizations: Transportation Department

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Recent comments

  • Kosal Da
    February 11, 2013 - 17:37

    Thank you for this great information. Speaking of which, do you happen to know of any good paving companies in Toronto?

  • KRS
    August 13, 2012 - 07:29

    "Before the project can proceed to the construction phase it has to pass an environmental assessment, the results of which the province will present at a public meeting Aug. 27." So then WHY are they setting expropriation dates for a WEEK EARLIER if the process hasn't even been approved yet? THIS PROJECT IS NOT APPROVED YET and hey have no right to move forward with it in this un-democratic and bullying manner.

  • Old Lady
    August 12, 2012 - 00:02

    Doesn't "settle or we'll expropriate" qualify as coercion and a conflict of laws? If the landowners resisting government purchase and expropriation were to mount a legal defense, and we who oppose Plan B were able to financially contribute to it, perhaps progress could be halted until another, more reasonable government is in power. Just a thought. Our legal system moves at a snail's pace, and there are few options left.

  • Property rights
    August 11, 2012 - 13:56

    The only reason to buy a home or property is to own it and once again its shown we just maintain and pay taxes and at any time it can be taken if some local government makes the need. Anyone familiar with the 407 Toll road North of 401 in Toronto should know the road was built only after government expropriated most of the land and then gave to the Road Builder . And on PEI if the winning bidder needs more money apparently they can go back to gov and request more which i didnt know could be done with contracts, maybe only on PEI

  • Ad hoc
    August 10, 2012 - 18:02

    “We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.” C.S. LEWIS

    • Uncle Wally
      August 10, 2012 - 21:02

      Best comment of the day - if only our "decision makers" could read. Okay, they can read. So, if only they could comprehend. Okay, they can read and comprehend. If only they cared . . . .

  • HMR
    August 10, 2012 - 17:39

    I totally agree with the comments made by "Who's on first?"; that Robert Vessey should be the one answering questions on Plan B! What an incompent minister! He can only repeat and repeat rehearsed answers; sometimes to an unrelated question! He was made look very,very silly by a lady protester at the demonstration to Plan B at Province House this spring,in repeating his rehearsed answers to her valid questions!

  • i wonder
    August 10, 2012 - 14:58

    why the prov gov't doesnt release the figures that some of these hold out's are asking for there property. is it fair to ask for 3- 5 times the current market value of your property? release those numbers and lets see what tune the commentors sing.

    • your property, your price
      August 12, 2012 - 06:37

      If it's your property then you should have the right to sell it for any price you want, whether under market or over market. This plan B stinks. I thought that PEI was against expropriation? I wonder if this will be the first time that expropriation is used since the building of the air base in Summerside 70 years ago?

  • Who's On First?
    August 10, 2012 - 14:23

    An interesting turn of events having Mr. Thompson speak on behalf of Mr. Vessey. First, the Minister had engineers speak for him, until their claims clearly didn't withstand any scrutiny - made them look like idiots. Then the Minister had Andrew Sprague, a comedian of Sketch 22 fame, do his taking for him. As a comedian, Mr. Sprague is excellent, but apparently even he couldn't keep a straight face on this one - so he's out the door. Now Mr. Thompson - a respected lawyer and Island citizen, is being asked to do Mr. Vessey's dirty work. How many more reputations will Mr. Vessey destroy during the employment of this fiasco? Not only should Plan B be stopped, this idiotic destruction of reputations should also be stopped!

    • wrong guy
      August 12, 2012 - 06:45

      I agree with your assessment, however this Brian Thompson is an engineer working for the province - he's the director of land and environment in the Dept of Transportation.

  • Tim
    August 10, 2012 - 14:21

    The new highway is the safer option. Can we start paving already?

    • Tim, Tim, Tim . . .
      August 10, 2012 - 16:38

      Wanna cover the millions of dollars it will take big guy? Go for it . . . as for this tax payer - I'd rather the money goes into the right pockets: children, seniors, doctors, teachers, the poor - hell even the road builders with the right project!

  • Concerning
    August 10, 2012 - 14:17

    Have a look in the Real Estate sites...so many Islander homes for sale. I hear of folks wanting to be able to "get out" as this Government is overspending so unwisely. People are getting nervous!!

  • Micahel Nesbitt
    August 10, 2012 - 13:08

    I ignore all the comments that descend to the level of political bashing; it doesn't matter which political stripe is running the government - a debate in itself - they all seem to include some similar sort of questionable action during their time in control. I ignore all the calls to stop expropriation based on the fact that it is expropriation; sometimes there is unreasonable opposition to plans whose benefit to society can be compelling. Nonetheless, I don't assess the plan to re-route the TCH through Churchill as such a plan. Yes, admittedly, it might lessen the care and attention needed by drivers, and even save some injury, damage or life by doing so, but I don't consider the trade-off in cost to the public purse to be worth that. It might save a few minutes on the drive from Halifax to Charlottetown - Atlantic Gateway arguments - but I suspect it will be more like a few seconds and really won't make any difference to anything. It will provide a quantity of short-term jobs in the road-building industry, but so would the other two options that were initially presented: bypass of Crapaud and re-alignment of Tryon. Both of those options would also have environmental impacts, but moreso on farmland than on forest (perhaps why they weren't chosen?). What happened to the other options? Yes, highways do have to be upgraded over time, and sometimes a change of route is better than just a reconstruction of the existing route. But what happened to the other choices presented, that of Crapaud and Tryon? The federal money would have applied just as "effectively". So much has already been spent on this project, I doubt the "government" will be able to step back without being burned as badly by the coals it has already trod upon as by the coals still remaining before the bucket of cool water. Does it matter to the MLAs, or are they resigned to the Island's political pattern and getting what they can before being sidelined again for their recess period? Ooops, now I'm getting all political... guess I'm just psyching myself up to vote in the next election for someone who hasn't yet had the chance to disappoint me.

    • Uncle Wally
      August 10, 2012 - 14:04

      Well said Micahel. But are you suggesting that the voter's rights are limited to the voting booth; the often stated position of Mr. Ghiz? While voting is a necessary feature of democracy, is there any evidence that it's sufficient in the face of these types of situations? True, the protests, petitions, citizen plebiscites, were ignored. And, all of the informed editorials and opinion pieces in the media were not effective either. Also true is that the chance of Mr. Vessey or Mr. Ghiz reading this is less then the chance that either of them care. But, for Islanders to just toss up our hands is, well, simply not like Islanders - regardless of political stripe! Plan B is wrong; we all know it. However, to sit back and do nothing is even more wrong than Plan B.

  • Jacinta
    August 10, 2012 - 12:16

    and what country did you say we lived in again? Oh I thought it was China!

  • Janet Gaudet
    August 10, 2012 - 12:02

    The road construction industry is a hungry beast, and the beast must be fed.

  • Upperdunker
    August 10, 2012 - 11:57

    The MLA's in office right now are either corrupt or gutless sheep; they've been elected but won't open their mouths to back their constituents. I voted for Joe Ghiz years ago, thinking he'd run the government like his parents ran the grocery store: wisely and frugally. But Joe spent like a drunken sailor and raised the deficit like there was no tomorrow. Now his son is doing the same thing.

  • Gerard
    August 10, 2012 - 11:14

    Not difficult (I AM ONLY A TAXPAYER) 2or 3 wealthy Liberals want to get their pockets fillede up again............They own most of the land.

  • LM
    August 10, 2012 - 11:09

    This is kind of like back when they were putting in the railway system, crooked Governments just wanting to line their pockets and get rid of all the 'problems' in the way. It makes me sick thinking what if I was one of those homeowners, I would be putting up one heck of a fight as this is not right. Where is there local MLA on this matter? Oh that's right, she's not allowed to speak anymore. No doubt her stint as an MLA will over in 2015, but by that time it will be far too late. As for the federal money backing this, the province needs to pay in full for this project and the feds reimburse them 50% afterwards. So they are paying $16M upfront and getting $8M back. That's like me wanting to buy a Bentley because it's half price, even though I still can't afford the half. My deal of a Corolla works just fine, can't we do the same here and downsize the project? Just getting what we need and can afford, not necessarily what the Gov't wants? Fresh coat of pavement perhaps?

    • Fed up
      August 10, 2012 - 12:48

      Good point - where's Valerie Docherty? Is she sticking up for these people who are being threatened? Is she doing anything to protect the supposed "Island way of life" that her government loves to promote in glossy tourism brochures? Better change those photos of rolling fields to shots of concrete, transport trucks and speeding drunks.

  • XComa
    August 10, 2012 - 11:05

    To allegedly improve safety. The rest of the TCH on PEI will still have driveway access. ... Look at the stats that are available. There are plenty of other highways/roads on PEI that could use the work. How many deaths on PEI's Highways/Roads since 2000? And of those Deaths how many of those were on this section of the TCH? ... http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2011/11/16/pei-f-driving-concern-584.html I do believe there are 61 deaths between 2007 and 2011 in this story, none of them on this stretch of highway. Interesting... So why is this section is so important to the politicians? What is the Real Story here?

  • Fed up
    August 10, 2012 - 10:53

    Looks like it's time to go to court. Nothing else is going to stop the corruption, patronage and sleeze here.

  • SICK
    August 10, 2012 - 10:34

    I served 30 years in the military and am proud that we travelled the world to stop dictators for taking peoples property. No I feel ashamed that we are letting the same thing happen here on our Island by a group of self centered out of touch people who call themselves the Government of PEI. A Government is supposed to be for the people by the people not against the people and for personal gain. May you all enjoy hell when you get there.

    • MOH
      August 10, 2012 - 12:42

      I don't agree with the new highway pre-posable just not needed or right to those living there for years , we retired to , PEI . To find out this is a dictator run provinces .To bad we are in now for the long haul.

  • Eastern Mouth
    August 10, 2012 - 10:01

    Some people are surprised and upset by this ??! ALL of Western "Civilization" is BASED on Expropriation! Just ask the Natives...They have had an illegal immigrant issue for centuries...

  • bruce macewen
    August 10, 2012 - 10:01

    It's very simple why this project is so important to the liberals and is being pushed so hard.This is Rte 1,the Trans Canada Highway (whoops,almost said Trans Siberian!) we're talking about.The Ghizzards have no money and Federal money is behind this and they don't want to lose it,will NOT lose it.Not only that,if they don't use it on this project,it will dissappear and they'll get less next year and the year after.It's all about budgeting.It's a chance for them to look good to the tourists and Canada in general and they won't let it slip out of their slimy fingers over the expulsion of a few decent people from their homes. What really rankles me is: That they don't realize the non-monetary value people place in their homes? The memories,children raised there,joy sadness,their lives,everything that you can't just up and replace with a few gov't dollars.It makes me wonder about their humanity.

  • Simone
    August 10, 2012 - 09:49

    I can't help but wonder"what if this was my home?' and then I get sick to my stomach. No amount of money could compensate me for the home we have built to hand down to our only child. The memories are here in mortar and stone.

  • SAP
    August 10, 2012 - 09:32

    The biggest problem with our system is that these people(politicians) don't care, and don't have to. Most people want to do a good job so they can advance and have security, but with these "leaders" lower case l, by the time they line their pockets, and collect pensions, they really don't have to care about what state they left things in, or if any of the "customers" were happy.

    • Michael
      August 10, 2012 - 12:42

      Agreed, whether actual or perceptual.

  • Janet Gaudet
    August 10, 2012 - 09:25

    It's interesting how this government backed down so quickly from Plan A. That's because they never intended to go through Strathgartney Park. That plan was a smokescreen. Now it's as if they're saying, well we gave you what you wanted, we stayed out of Strathgartney, so this is what you're going to get. You can either like it or lump it because we couldn't care less how you feel.about it.

  • SG
    August 10, 2012 - 09:25

    This project may create jobs but it certainly won't improve safety! There were fewer accidents and deaths on this TCH than on any other road or highway on PEI. Islanders have asked repeatedly for the Report re: accidents on this TCH to no avail. Why wasn't the report available to the public? The majority of Islanders signed a Petition aganist the Plan B Project via an On Line Website and Canada Post Mail. Hence the voices of our tax paying citizens are apparently not heard. So why do Island tax paying Citizens Vote? For what purpose? If our voices are not heard why are our Votes counted during an Election? I won't be Voting come next Election. If my voice isn't required on such Projects as Plan B why would it be required for an Election? IMO Property Owners should have the right to decide whether they wish to sell their property or not irregardless of what Gov. Project or Need. I won't be voting come next Election unless there is a New Party running that I feel is worthy of my support.

  • Old Lady
    August 10, 2012 - 09:22

    It's eminent domain, not as I spelled it. Need more coffee and less anger. This debacle is infuriating -- it's time we demand plebiscite and recall provisions. The next election can't come soon enough.

  • SAP
    August 10, 2012 - 09:16

    For those who say the project is needed to create jobs. That is a pretty false economy to create jobs building something unneeded and unwanted, with taxpayers money that is already in short supply, and threaten to force other tax payers land to do it. wasting money you don't have is never a good idea. I am going to help the economy by running up my credit card, I don't have to pay it right way right?

  • sean b
    August 10, 2012 - 09:10

    this is awful kicking people outta their homes i knew it would come to this its not right at all the liberals are giving the pei residents the royal screw job. Everyone should write ottawa they are the ones funding plan B entirely not the liberals on PEI were in debt cause of the liberals if anything if they stop it to investigate then theres a chance i myself have already wrote and recieved coorespondance from the prime ministers office the email is pm@pm.gc.ca if they see a problem then they may launch a public enquiry or investigation of mis-spending governmant funds which really there is cause if they can fix a road instead of building a new one why spend extra money when really you dont have to. the road has been there forever as long as I can remember it seems to be fine it serves its job.

  • Janet Gaudet
    August 10, 2012 - 09:06

    We're not living in a democratic province, we're living in a dictatorship. I didn't vote for this government in 2007 or 2011 as I could see there would be trouble coming. I hope that some of you who did vote for them will reconsider how you vote in 2015 when you mark your ballots.

  • Feel Sorry
    August 10, 2012 - 09:05

    I feel sorry for these people being uprooted from the land they have paid taxes on & thought they owned , only to make a few liberal support ers rich . It is just wrong . I had this threatened to me a while ago & the price they were offering was not even close to what it was worth . When the prime part was taken (the part they wanted) the rest of my property wasn't worth the paper the deed was on. If it was necessary then yes , but this plan B isn't . Just another waste of taxpayers money to make a few rich . The amount of work generated will be minual .

  • Den
    August 10, 2012 - 08:58

    Well, you stunned Liberal lackeys voted him in and look what you got, looks good on ya. And no, I'm not a supporter of the Tories or the NDP either because once they get in, they'll do the exact same thing. Politics is politics and always will be for these self serving, smug criminals that we have slim pickings to choose from.

  • Old Lady
    August 10, 2012 - 08:51

    Suggest resisting landowners locate and contact an aggressive PEI-licensed off-Island lawyer experienced in this area of law. Although principles of imminent domain give the government enormous power, that right can, and is being legally challenged elsewhere. Poetic justice would see the Ghiz government forced to justify their rationale for Plan B --doubt it would stand legal scrutiny.

  • i.sargent
    August 10, 2012 - 08:40

    The landowners along the Churchill hwy are fortunate to be offered compensation for the expropriation of their land. The Province has a neat trick for picking up private property along a roadway for FREE. In 2005 the Province quietly passed EC2005-677. The Act "rescinded the 1897 closure" of an easement across private properties for a 250 year old horse and buggy trail known as Old Queens Road, or the Road to Nowhere. The Province then converted the privately owned easement into public property by designating it as a "non-essential highway". The Province "got away" with the freebee land grab because the landowners were NEVER notified by the Province that a public highway now runs through their properties. Unfortunately, EC2005-677 throws all existing property records into chaos and destroys property values, as found by I.R.A.C. Order LT11-02.

  • James
    August 10, 2012 - 08:39

    Bravo Liberal overlords and the sheep that elected you.....next election, pay attention to the agenda of those you vote for.

  • Concerned
    August 10, 2012 - 08:25

    Expropriation is the politically motivated and forceful confiscation and redistribution of private property outside the common law. Unlike eminent domain or laws regulating the foreign investment, expropriation takes place outside the common law and may be used to denote an armed robbery by revolutionaries. The term appears as "expropriation of expropriators (ruling classes)" in Marxist theory, and also as the slogan "Loot the looters!", very popular during the Russian October Revolution. The term is also used to describe nationalization campaigns by communist states, such as dekulakization and collectivization in the USSR [2], and as some form of justification for robberies by revolutionaries such as by Joseph Stalin and Kamo in the USSR.

  • voter
    August 10, 2012 - 08:00

    Way to go my liberal brothers!! If they don't like progress then offer them next to nothing. This project is needed, it creates jobs, improves safety.

  • Bill Kays
    August 10, 2012 - 07:50

    Expropriation is a terrible thing and it is being perpetrated on honest law abiding citizens by a terrible tyrannical government. These laws and regulations pertaining to expropriation should be repealed and taken off the books. Face it, our government no longer serves us the people. This is another nail in the coffin of the rights and freedoms we once took for granted. This dictatorial government wants to show once again that it cares not for the people but seems to enjoy flexing its' muscles at poor working people. Throw the bums out.

  • Plan B makes us all stink.
    August 10, 2012 - 07:47

    It's not only what Plan B is that should anger Islanders - it's what it represents. Put disrespectful procedural fairness aside, put aside the unproven safety concerns and even the clams of political patronage. Put aside the fact that tax-payers are factually being forced to pay for something we neither need nor want. What Islanders have left is a clear example of the worst kind of governance possible outside of a third world dictatorship. And be clear, I voted Liberal and do not live in the Bonshaw area . . . this whole project is a mockery of democracy and reflects an ugliness most of us just don't have the courage to acknowledge or do something about. It makes us all look bad; it just stinks.

  • Plan B
    August 10, 2012 - 07:29

    Wow! This Goverment really knows how to piss people off. It's like they will stop at nothing to force this down our Throat's. There has to be more to it then their telling us. Surprise surprise.

  • shirley
    August 10, 2012 - 07:24

    ""Boy this is a gov."" WE WILL NEVER FORGET.Someone please tell Robert to loosen that RED TIE so maybe air can go to his brain and allow his ears to hear the people who put him and his cronies in.

  • ticked
    August 10, 2012 - 06:37

    Don't they do something.similar in RUSSiA. I didn't realize how far down hill our government had slid

  • Bring it on
    August 10, 2012 - 06:30

    Go ahead MAKE them take it.You will fair off alot better than those who gave up willingly.Look at the pressadents set from the last case.IE Mckinnly vs Gov. It worked out something like 50,000 an hectaor.

  • don
    August 10, 2012 - 06:20

    how nice of your dizzy government to FORCE you to sell. i bet you are all proud that you voted in a liberal to help your island and force you to move from your home.

  • Bob Macdonald
    August 10, 2012 - 06:17

    They should also pass a law forbidding ANY kind of new access lanes onto the Trans Canada so they won't have to keep doing this in the future. NO one should be allowed to build on the Trans Canada Highway. I fully support the governments efforts to provide us with a modern highway system.

  • Jim Singleton
    August 10, 2012 - 06:13

    Don't let your family tree sink it's root's deep into the soil where your Great Great Great Grandpappy and Granny were Born,,,, You just might get sent packing ,, heading down the road with your mattress on your back,,, Don't look back because you don't own it and never did own it,,, People go back hundred of years paying taxes on property they think they own and will pass down to their family and their families family,,,,, "But NO,,, If the Government wants it ,,, The Government get's it,,,, So get out of the way they are coming through one way or the other,,,,,Just goes to show who owned the land in the first place...

  • Ouch
    August 10, 2012 - 06:00

    This is fundamentally wrong!

  • hank snow
    August 10, 2012 - 05:54

    Well Mr Thompson, you bring up a good point about having an outside appraisal done on these 8 or 9 properties, but how about you have this appraiser appraise all the properties that have already been purchased and post his appraisal along with what Ghiz has paid for these liberal properties.

  • Brendon McAskill
    August 10, 2012 - 05:03

    Negotiated deals, sounds like a one way negotiation to me. Good luck next election.

  • I am only a taxpayer
    August 10, 2012 - 04:42

    It doesn't seem to me that anyone wants this to happen...would love to understand who and what is truly pushing this project. Seems ridiculous to spend this kind of $$ on a road when so much is being cut. Penny wise, pound foolish.

  • Miss the ol pei
    August 09, 2012 - 23:36

    Wow. This is wrong on so many levels. I understand that the law is the law, but.......wow.

  • Neil
    August 09, 2012 - 23:13

    Another reason to kick this Liberal cooupt govt. out next election. I now have 32 reasons on my list now.

    • Michael
      August 10, 2012 - 13:39

      And who will you vote to replace them, Neil; the other "natural governing party"?

  • Tom Jacobs
    August 09, 2012 - 23:07

    Why are they buying the land if it still has to pass an environmental assessment? Or right, because the environment assessment is just a formality and it means nothing at all. Our government is crooked.