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    This may seem like a “heavy” article, but in an area that is growing and developing as quickly as our wonderful city is; a local lawyer has taken time out to educate each of us on how growth can affect us as land owners!

    Watch this to Understand!

    To get a full understanding why not watch “The Little Pink House” on Prime TV.  While this movie is based in the United States it provides an interesting overview of expropriation while telling a real-life story. In this movie a not-for-profit firm took up the battle and that was the only way the landowners could have afforded legal representation.  In Canada, the expropriating authority telling you they are “taking your land” has to pay reasonable legal fees for you to have your OWN lawyer.

    The term expropriation in Canada describes the right of the government to legally take real property (land), that is owned privately and apply it for a greater public use or benefit.

    Government has the Power!

    At all levels, governments have the power to expropriate private land.

    Lands that are expropriated are generally used for expansion of highways, landfills and various utility systems, schools, railways, airports, pipelines, parks or city boundaries.  In Barrie landowners will be most familiar with land being taken to improve or widen the road networks by the City of Barrie, County of Simcoe or the Ministry of Transportation.  One current example of commercial interests being impacted is the Ministry of Transportation taking of the Dunlop Plaza displacing all the commercial tenants.

    Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom there is no constitutional right for Canadians to own property.  This is where the Canadian system differs from the United States system and the expression “eminent domain” referred to in the movie.  The landowner’s rights are stronger in the United States providing more opportunity to challenge the claimed “public good” than in Canada.  In Canada it is mainly a matter of being properly compensated both financially and by the replacement of loss of amenities. The landowner’s rights are found in Expropriations Act which is provincial legislation.

    As a landowner it is completely up to you to know and understand your rights.

    Included in your rights are the following:

    To be notified of expropriation

                To be notified of all steps being taken by the government in the process

                To challenge the expropriation

    To representation by a lawyer in the process with reasonable legal fees reimbursed to the landowner.

    As a landowner, if you’re not happy accepting the proposal you have the right to:

    A formal offer of compensation

                A record of appraisal

                The ability to negotiate compensation

     A public hearing or inquiry procedure before an independent tribunal.

    Meet Shari Elliott

    Meet Shari Elliott, of Elliott & Elliott, one of the very few lawyers versed in the complicated area of expropriation law.

    It is Shari’s objective to educate the public on what their rights are under the expropriation law.  Most importantly Shari wishes to inform landowners that:

    If it happens – You can’t stop it.

                With Shari’s assistance – You can manage the outcome!

    There’s no time limit on being able to ask for a better compensation package until you actually sign.

                The fact that is that Shari works solely for you as a land owner:

    She works to restore the landowner to the same position as they were before expropriation.

    She will assist you in settling your claim for:

    Injurious affection (damage to the land or the landowner’s ability to use the property)

    Loss of business or the capacity to use the property for such purposes, even if temporarily during the construction

    Special circumstances like difficulty in relocating or special value of the property based on current use.

    With a lawyer acting in your interest you will generally experience a less stressful, collaborative process resulting in a more generous compensation offer.

    With these thoughts in mind, if you or any one that you know is involved in an expropriation of their land, or the land their business sits on; reaching out to the pros is definitely a very good idea…

    Written by: Jane Laker

    Photo Credit: Steve Elliott

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