September 3, 2004
City Abandons Expropriation
City Council voted
to abandon the expropriation of the Mill Creek property that has been
the centre of controversy
Michael Wild, the
36 year old Creative Director has lived in the house since December
2003. "I'm ecstatic that this battle is finally going
to be over and that the City is backing off." Wild said. "It's
a huge relief. It has been a very stressful time since the Transportation
and Public Works committee voted to expropriate in January. I'm finally
going to be able to enjoy living here."
Negotiations to buy
Wild's house started in July, but the City left the table mid August
without even countering Wild's offer. On July 21 the City voted to
delay their plans in order to see if a deal could be negotiated. If
it would have gone to expropriation, the settlement would have been
at least $450,000 to $500,000 for the property in addition to the $100,000+
in legal fees. According to the Expropriation Act, the City is required
to pay for all of Wild's legal fees as well as cover the cost of the
Provincial Inquiry Hearing. Wild wouldn't say exactly what he wanted
for the property, but said he asked for less cash than what it would
cost the City to expropriate. "In my mind, I thought
I had made a reasonable offer." Wild said.
A provincially appointed
Inquiry Officer said the City's plan to seize Wild's property is not
fair, sound nor reasonably necessary. The Inquiry Officer went much
further than required under normal Inquiry rules and categorized the
taking as an “abusive process”.
City Administration, who were the driving force behind the City's efforts
to acquire the property, recommended that Council abandon the expropriation
in a report written August 19, 2004.
When Wild heard City
Council voted to abandon the expropriation he said "Common
sense prevailed and City Council listened to what the citizens were telling
them. Wild collected over 2,000 signatures on a petition against the
expropriation, the vast majority of which are from trail users and neighbours.
Wild plans to improve
the property by adding a deck and a small garage and he is concerned
the City will interfere with these plans. "The
City told me that's one of the methods they use to acquire properties
like mine, they deny development permits until the people give up and
sell to the City." Wild said. "It looks like a big victory
for me, but the reality is, the City is just changing its tactics. They'll
be penalizing me for beating them in the public forum. I am not sure
what I'll do if that happens, I'll have to cross that bridge when I come
to it," he said. "The Planning and Development Department told
the previous owner that a garage could be built on the property, it will
be interesting to see whether the City denies my permit when I apply
Council, in its capacity as the Approving Authority under the Expropriation
Act, after considering the Report of the Inquiry Officer (Attachment
2 of the July 13, 2004, Corporate Services Department report 2004COL011
included as Attachment 1 of the August 4, 2004, Corporate Services
Department report 2004COL013), disapprove the expropriation of
the residential property municipally located at 9213 - 97 Street
and legally described as Lot 2, Block 5, Plan 1820 AX, by way of
the Resolution Disapproving Expropriation and Reasons for Decision
included as Attachment 3 of the August 4, 2004, Corporate Services
Department report 2004COL013.
FOR THE MOTION: J.
Batty, T. Cavanagh, E. Gibbons, L. Langley,
K. Leibovici, S. Mandel, D. Thiele.
OPPOSED: A. Bolstad, R. Hayter, J. Melnychuk, M. Phair.
ABSENT: B. Smith; B. Anderson. .
Michael Wild moved into his new home
at 9213 - 97 Street on December 15th,
2003 and began working full-time on renovating his new dream home.
On January 27th, 2004 members of the
City's Transportation and Public Works
Committee voted to recommend to Council
to expropriate his home so they could
tear it down.
The primary reason
given by the Transportation Department to support the argument for
expropriation was "to eliminate safety issues relating to the
vehicular crossing of Mill Creek Ravine trail", a trail that
runs the length of the ravine from approbate 70 Avenue to the base
of Connor's Hill.
The second reason
given for recommending expropriation is "for the consolidation
with surrounding parkland and fulfillment of the City's Ribbon of
Green Principle of establishing continuous river valley trails."
In response to
the safety issue, no evidence, facts or data were presented by the
City to support a concern for public safety. Since the home was built,
over 50 years ago, there has never been an accident at this intersection.
The Transportation Department could not even answer the question "How
much traffic crosses the trail at this intersection?" when asked
by the Committee. There is signage indicating a crossing for both
vehicle and pedestrian traffic. This signage is similar to the signage
where the trail crosses 76 Avenue, the road which accesses Mill Creek
Ravine Swimming Pool, the road that provides access to two other
ravine homes at 87 Avenue and the crossing at the base of Connor's
The City's policy
of incorporating homes into the Ribbon of Green has been inconsistently
implemented throughout the River Valley. There are hundreds of homes
that exist within the Ribbon and there are no plans to expropriate
those homes. The City acquired land on the North side 98 Avenue to
incorporate it into the Ribbon of Green and then sold it to a developer
to build a condo complex. There have been exceptions made for John
Poole, former owner of PCL; Don Wheaton of Wheaton Chevrolet Oldsmobile
on Whyte Ave.; and Sandy Mactaggart of Maclab Construction Company
Ltd.; all of whom own large estate properties in the Ribbon of Green.
What is the real
reason the City wants this property? Is it because they are embarrassed
they missed their opportunity to get it through the first right of
refusal and now are going to make Mr. Wild pay by wielding their
extraordinary power of expropriation? Or are they planning on developing
Mill Creek the same way they have 98 Avenue?
here to learn how you can stop the City from demolishing
one of the most unique properties in the City.