Council signals intent to expropriate land for sewer separation project

Dave Stewart
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FILE PHOTO - Queen Street at the intersection with Pond Street where work continues in the city's sewer extension project.

Charlottetown’s Water and Sewer Utility may have to take some of the land it needs for its separation project by force.

City council began the process at its regular monthly meeting Monday of expropriating land it needs on Summer Street.

Coun. Eddie Rice, chairman of the utility, said negotiations with E. Brian Johnston have failed so far so the city may not have any choice but to take it without his consent.

“All of the other properties in the surrounding area have agreed for the greater good of the city,’’ Rice said following a unanimous 8-0 vote by council to signal its intent to expropriate.

Couns. Mitchell Tweel and Cecil Villard were absent.

The actual vote to take the land it needs, should talks continue to fail, will be held at the next regular monthly meeting of council on July 14.

“This is just the first step. We are allowed under our acts to expropriate.’’

Efforts were made to reach Johnston Monday evening after council’s meeting but were unsuccessful. One resident on Summer Street said Johnston rents units.

The city is in the process of laying pipe underground that will enable it to completely separate sanitary water from storm water and preventing the much-publicized overflows into the Hillsborough River.

Rice said Johnston wants the city to buy his property and is asking $100,000.

The city does have a non-registered easement over the property in question. The existing pipe is there and all the city wants to do is put the new pipe next to it.

Rice said it would cost city taxpayers $400,000 if the city chooses to go around the property.

“We can’t in all conscience support that because there’s a non-registered easement already there. We’re just looking at the ways and means that we act upon it.’’

The utility has expropriated property in the past but Rice said he’s optimistic a deal will be reached.

This little snag isn’t causing any delays in the sewer separation project yet.

Rice said council signaled a notice of intent to expropriate the land next month so it wouldn’t cause a delay.

“That’s the whole purpose of tonight, to not delay the project. If we go beyond July 21 then we are in danger of possibly causing a delay in the project.’’

Not only would it delay the project, but the firm that’s handling the work could slap the city with a penalty.

“The timing is critical.’’

Rice said they’re trying to get in and out of the area quickly so it causes as little disruption as possible.

“(The residents) have been very patient with us. The success is there, we can smell it.’’

If a deal with Johnston isn’t reached and the land is expropriated the land owner would be compensated and "a price is decided by the due process of law. It would be what he’s entitled to. I hope that’s fairness for everybody.’’

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Hillsborough River

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Recent comments

  • Quiet Observer
    June 10, 2014 - 11:41

    Hmmm, where were all these loud mouths when the land was accumulated for Plan B and everyone was forced from their homes? In reality, expropriation is needed in certain situations. They don't want this guys land. All they want to do is lay a pipe underneath it. No big deal. The landowner in this situation may be out to get a quick buck for nothing at the expense of you and me, the rest of the city taxpayers. It would cost $400,000 to go around him so why not go for $100,000.

  • Expropriating land
    June 10, 2014 - 08:18

    Expropriating land from the land owner is wrong . They do not give you what the property is worth to you . THEY JUST STEAL IT . The city has a choice , $100,000 or go around it . It's not like they haven't any other alternatives . I don't think this is a big price to pay when you look at some of the prices they pay their friends for land . Only people that hasn't scrimped in order to purchase land would see expropriating land as OK . I have been there & done that & know that unless your a friend or family member , you sometimes will not get what the property is worth to you . Any one that buy's usually has plans & hopes for the land they purchased & no one else can judge what that is worth when you don't want to sell .

  • Craig
    June 10, 2014 - 06:31

    Remember you only rent(property taxes) your land you do not own it! You Need permission / permits to do any projects on it!

  • townie22
    June 10, 2014 - 05:48

    too many people get greedy and see dollar signs when they hear the word government, remember, it's OUR tax dollars these owners are trying to gouge, not "free" money. property owners are always offered above market value for their land for their inconvenience.

    • That's Not True
      June 10, 2014 - 10:44

      That statement isn't true . you are not always offered more than market value . The people taking the land are not taking into consideration what effect taking the piece they want has on the value of what you are left with .

  • Dave Moxley
    June 09, 2014 - 23:54

    Wow, Don and Mike. Two rough and tumble guys who talk real tough knowing they will never have to go through with their empty threats. Just like two tom cats screaming at the city knowing that both will slink away in the end. Yeah. You guys are real tough. By the way Don, the land owner will be paid fair market value. How is that stealing his land? Besides I doubt you clowns have any land worth expropriating.

  • Crap
    June 09, 2014 - 23:26

    Ghiz Lib govt has been so over ruling & ruining this island and now Charlottetown feels empowered as islanders rarely fight back & when we do we lose. Throw all provincial & municipal bums out & get some new blood in or this province is RUINED.

  • don
    June 09, 2014 - 19:33

    city may not have any choice but to take it without his consent. so really they are stealing the land and there is nothing the land owner can do. then why can't the land owners in ch'town go to city land and say we have voted and we are going to take this land and u have nothing to say in it.. why is it the governments can TAKE what they want and you can't stop them but you as a tax payer can not do the same? talk about crooks lol that is down right STEALING. but i bet the land owner will still have o pay tax on the land. i hope the land owner goes to a good lawyer to fight this.

    • Hawkins
      June 09, 2014 - 23:26

      The reason that municipalities have the right to expropriate land is so a single individual cannot hold the city at ransom. They could demand a million dollars for a piece of property that wasnt worth 50 cents and hold up dozens of infrastructure projects. This may be news to you, but cities all over the world have this authority (thank god).

    • don
      June 10, 2014 - 07:12

      Hawkins. maybe the city is not offering the man a fair deal. as this paper only gets one side of the story as normal. maybe they should try to get both sides. and we will find out the city is being a bully it is nothing new that a city being a bully.

    • Hawkins
      June 10, 2014 - 07:44

      Well Don, in that case, he doesnt have anything to worry about. Expropriations of land are based on fair market value, assessed by indendant means and comparable property in the area.

  • mike
    June 09, 2014 - 19:19

    I would love to see the city try to take my land. If they didn't want to pay what I wanted and just took it. It would be childish but I would destroy the land to the point that they would have millions of rehab to do. I don't even know how they can just take it from him. I guess the little guy looses to the big guy again.

    • Also a Mike
      June 10, 2014 - 06:34

      If the government expropriated any building they do so with the intention of demolishing and bulldozing whatever's there.