During the recent resurfacing of Bow Trail there was a message
posted on a pylon sign by an adjacent business owner that read
"Bow Trail is not Rome. Please Complete" (see "Road Construction Delays Cause Headaches for
Drivers, Businesses" on Global News). The
business owners were obviously hopeful that the work would be
concluded quickly so as to minimize the effect on their
Municipalities must have the ability to complete necessary
public works. However, ongoing infrastructure improvements in
municipalities across the province inevitably impact adjacent homes
and business owners. These adjacent landowners sometimes go
uncompensated where they are not fully informed of their rights to
compensation if such public works result in a permanent reduction
in property value.
Recent public discussion in respect of infrastructure projects
in Calgary appeared to have left the false impression that
landowners are only entitled to nominal compensation or no
compensation at all in respect of the impact on their land by
virtue of the municipality completing its public works. For
example, in response to landowner concerns regarding the current
construction activities on 14th Street SW in Calgary, the City of
Calgary has commented that it "does not have a practice of
'compensating businesses directly'" (see "Calgary Won't 'Directly' Compensate
Businesses for Lost Revenue During Road Construction" on
the Metro News website) and that "it has not
made a payment to a business for construction issues alone in the
past" (see "No Compensation for Businesses During 14th Street
Construction, Says City" on the CBC News
While the Municipal Government Act does not provide
relief for temporary business losses suffered during construction,
the comments cited above should not be read to mean that landowners
are not entitled to any compensation for
impacts arising from the construction of public works or structures
in Alberta. To the contrary, section 534 of the MGA creates a clear
entitlement to compensation for adjacent landowners for permanent
reductions in the value of their land as the result of certain
public works or structures.
In order to seek compensation, affected landowners must file a
claim with the municipality within 60 days of notice of completion
of the public work or structure having been published in the
newspaper. Seeking compensation for reduction in property value as
the result of a public work can be a complex process requiring
legal advice and the assistance of expert appraisers. Landowners
that rely on the position of a given municipality or government may
not successfully realize their full entitlement to compensation
under the Municipal Government Act. The representation of
experienced counsel enables landowners to navigate the statutory
and administrative framework effectively and realize compensation
owed in respect of loss of value to their property as the result of
a public work.
We can all agree that there is a requirement for municipalities
to discharge its obligations in respect to maintaining, repairing
and constructing public works. However if you are affected by such
public works, seek professional advice to determine whether
compensation is available.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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