© Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
Loring and Judy Rayner of the Riverdale Road join hundreds of protesters at Province House Thursday who demanded the government put a stop to "Plan B", the realignment project for the TransCanada Highway in Churchill.
The last few holdouts in the Trans Canada Highway re-alignment will soon be getting expropriation notices after the deadline passed to sell the government their land.
Transportation Department spokesman Leo Creamer said as of the noon deadline Wednesday, there were still five landowners who hadn’t come to an agreement with the government.
The government will expropriate those properties, Creamer said.
“We can start the process and still talk to them right up to the date that the documents are registered.”
The land purchases are necessary for the province to start construction on the so-called Plan B highway re-alignment in Churchill.
That work is supposed to start in September.
Government expects to pay $4 million to buy the properties it needs for the project.
The provincial and federal governments will cost share the other $16 million needed to build the highway.
Of the properties the government is buying, 10 have houses on them and eight are occupied, although only one of the houses is in the re-alignment’s direct path.
Owners of the expropriated properties will still be paid for their land.
The expropriation process involves a legal survey identified as an expropriation plan to show what the province is buying.
It also requires a notice of expropriation, which lays out why the government is buying the land.
Finally, the government has to advertise for three consecutive weeks after the expropriation to notify the public that anyone who wants to file a claim for compensation related to the property must file it within six months after the registration date.
Creamer said most of the survey work is finished so it’s a matter of physically producing the survey plan.
“It’s a little bit of paperwork, basically,” he said.
Despite the expropriation process moving forward, Creamer said the government will continue to talk to the affected landowners.
“We’re not shutting off the process at this point,” he said.
Meanwhile, opposition environment critic Hal Perry has called for the fisheries, transportation and rural development committee to hold public hearings to discuss the project’s environmental assessment.
In a news release, Perry said the government plans to hold a public meeting Monday about the environmental impact assessment, but it should go further.
“I have been to this government’s public meetings before and they are nothing more than an opportunity to sell their ideas,” he said.
Perry said public hearings are needed immediately because the government is planning to start work in September.
“If there are findings in the report that could potentially stop this project, Islanders need to have a say and it is the committee’s responsibility to give them an avenue to do so,” he said.