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Update: September 3, 2004

City Abandons Expropriation Process

City Council voted to abandon the expropriation of the Mill Creek property that has been the centre of controversy
for months.

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 for it."

The Vote:
That City 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. .

The Issue:
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 Hill.

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?

Click here to learn how you can stop the City from demolishing one of the most unique properties in the City.


     For more information contact Michael at 780.431.1020

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