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P.E.I. government still negotiating with landowners on Cornwall bypass project

The Hughes-Jones Centre for People and Animals in Cornwall.
The Hughes-Jones Centre for People and Animals in Cornwall.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Although construction season is just around the corner, the provincial government is still in negotiations with a number of landowners to make way for Phase 2 of the Cornwall bypass project.  

James Aylward, MLA for Stratford – Kinlock, brought up concerns over the legal costs on the expropriation of land during question period on April 12.

Transportation Minister Paula Biggar did not answer this question but did say of the 24 pieces of land to be acquired, 50 per cent of them have been either acquired or are under negotiation.

It appears some of those negotiations are not going smoothly.

Aylward brought up the displacement of the Hughes-Jones Centre, a non-profit organization that provides horse therapy services to a number of vulnerable groups and individuals.

Aylward wanted to why the government would displace a farm that provides preventative mental health services in the community.

Transportation Minister Paula Biggar.

Biggar said her department initially offered to relocate the Hughes-Jones Centre. However, with that offer not panning out it has entered a lease for them to stay at their current location until May 2018.
“We are glad that they have entered into a lease so that they have time to relocate and to transition their property to another location and we will continue to work with them in that regard.”
Biggar adds that they have been and continue to be in discussions with the owners of the Hughes-Jones Centre.
“We have worked hand-in-hand with this particular business,” said Biggar.

But that is not what Ellen Hughes says happened.

Hughes said they have tried to work with government but haven’t been in the same room with government officials since January.

“I can’t tell you how many emails we’ve sent to her directly that have gone unanswered,” said Hughes. “We have been trying to get them to work with us since fall to no avail.”

Related: Highway to cut right through horse centre for troubled P.E.I. youth

Rowdy, a quarter horse at the Hughes-Jones Centre for People and Animals, gets some attention from, Marie-Soleil Gaudreau, from left, Olivia and Leah MacPhail in this file photo.

Hughes said they were offered a piece of land along the old bypass but that it was not suitable for their operations, since they faced the possibility of future expropriation. The land also had not being farmed in over 16 years, therefore not making it “ideal”.
She adds that they want to relocate within Cornwall, but that is proving to be a challenge with the agriculture land prices rising in the area.
“What we have been compensated through expropriation is not enough for us to buy within the community,” Hughes explains.

ELLEN JONES: From landowners to renters

Hughes feels the comments made by Biggar in the legislature are not reflective of her personal experience since they are not being compensated enough to move and they are not working closely with government.

“I haven’t been lied to quite so publically before in my life,” said Hughes. “There is no negotiation process. The only type of negotiation we have received is through lawyers, not through any type of communication with their government.”

 

mcoulter@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/MaureenElizaC

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