Strathearn couple vow to fight LRT expropriation plan

With Edmonton city council expected to vote on the final plan next week, one couple says many aren't aware of the burden the LRT route will have on their land and the larger community.
The city is a step closer to expropriating property for the new Southeast to West LRT line, - but one couple says the new route will be a big burden for the neighbourhood. 2:32

With the city considering plans to expropriate land for the planned LRT expansion, some people in the Strathearn neighbourhood say the route could have real costs in the community.

Wayne Brown and Sharon Morganson were among those present at City Hall Monday as the Executive Committee voted on the expropriation plan -- one that includes securing a section of the laneway on the couple’s land to make room for a traffic circle.

"It's seven metres by seven metres...that's a big chunk," said Brown.

"The jackrabbits live there, and the birds sing and people wander in and students eat their lunches. It's an oasis."

Brown said that laneway has long served as connection for others in the community and a meeting place, especially for children, in the neighbourhood.

He always worried that the LRT will create a barrier, splitting the neighbourhood in two.

"I just don’t think that people understand that once this thing starts rolling, this whole neighbourhood is going to change. Really change."

City administration said it has designed the expropriation plan to have a minimum impact on the communities along the route. Officials said they have spent the past two years negotiating with property owners to secure the land that it needs.

However, the couple said they only received a call about the matter last month. Last week, they received a letter saying that their property would be affected "in some way."

"That letter was very poorly written, it was unclear, and it wasn't dated," said Brown.

"So to send it in the mail and say that you've been notified, that process is wrong."

Others in the community have had similar problems, saying the city has only given a few months notice and has been unclear on how exactly the LRT will affect property owners.

City Councillor Ben Henderson said the city is open to compromise with property owners who feel that the LRT plan puts too much of a burden on them.

"There are trade-offs, it's not perfect, we've always known that," he said.

"But if there's a better way to come up with a better solution for them, I think we should be exploring it."

Brown and Morganson said if a compromise can’t be reached, they are likely looking at moving out of their home.

The final vote on the expropriation plan is expected to be held at the March 20 city council meeting.