A landowner from Cornwall, P.E.I., is entitled to another $295,389 in compensation for the expropriation of their 79-acre property to make way for the bypass highway, according to a ruling by the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island.
The property is home to the Hughes-Jones Centre, which provides riding lessons and is an equine therapeutic facility. The property is owned by the family of Ellen Jones and also includes a three-storey home and office along with a riding arena. Jones owns the business on the property.
They were expropriated in March, although the move out date isn't until May 2018.
"In all, it was ... a very good decision for us," Jones said.
The Jones family fought the price they'd initially been paid for the expropriation — $536,800 — because it said it wasn't enough to relocate Jones's business.
The additional money increases their chances of being able to relocate effectively on a similar property, Jones said.
'Fairness is important'
"When I read the ruling, I see that there's potential for other landowners to be treated differently — and I think that's really important for P.E.I. and for responsibility," Jones said.
"We definitely feel like the Justice heard us and that was really important to us moving forward, whether we got more money or not, that was extremely important."
The province said it has not yet gone through the decision in detail.
"The process was followed. That's what's in place. We negotiated in good faith and the judge came back with a decision," said Stephen Yeo, chief engineer for the transportation department.
"So, we'll just move forward, review that with the legal team, and continue along with the project."
Two different appraisals
The disagreement over the compensation amount led to an arbitration hearing before Justice Jacqueline Matheson in June.
- Fair value for farm in path of P.E.I. highway debated at hearing
- Expropriated Cornwall landowner looking for double what government paid
Both parties had hired appraisers to evaluate the property, and both appraisers presented their findings in the arbitration.
The appraiser hired by the province, with Atlantic Realty Advisors, valued the farm at $488,000.
The province also paid the Jones family a 10 per cent incentive fee to help cover moving expenses, bringing the total payout to $536,800.
"It would be really nice to be able to start moving forward." — Ellen Jones
The Jones family hired Altus Group to do its appraisal, and according to reports prepared by that company, the Jones's land was valued at $696,000 plus $370,000 for reinstatement costs of a full relocation.
In total that put the Jones's estimated value and costs over $1 million — double what they were paid by government.
In her decision, Justice Matheson stated, "I find the Altus report on property values to be a more realistic appraisal than the ARA report," although she didn't agree with all of its recommendations and didn't allow all the Jones's claims.
'Excited to see what the next steps are'
Ellen Jones can remain as a tenant on site until May 2018. That gives her and her family nine months to find a new property, and move.
"It would be really nice to be able to start moving forward. It's been a year where we haven't been able to do that. So we're excited to see what the next steps are," Jones said.
The province has 30 days to appeal the decision. Yeo would not comment on whether or not that will happen.
As for how this might affect other expropriations, he said, "This only involves one parcel of land, so we'll continue to negotiate in good faith and if we can't come to an agreement, we have to be fair with taxpayers money."
This is the first expropriation case on P.E.I. to reach the point of arbitration.
In her ruling, the Justice also suggested it might be worth revisiting the P.E.I. statute on expropriation to bring it in line with federal and other provincial legislation when it comes to fair compensation.
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