British Columbia

District of North Vancouver seeks to remove woman standing in way of $198M project

The District of North Vancouver is going to court in a bid to demolish the expropriated home of a woman accused of standing in the way of a $198 million highway project. 

Juanna Hanlon's lawyer says his client feels like she's 'being beaten up by a large powerful bully'

Coloured lines indicate trajectories for a water main (blue), sanitary sewer lines (red) and gas line (green). The district of North Vancouver claims Juanna Hanlon's old home sits in the way of all of them. (District of North Vancouver/B.C. Supreme Court)

The District of North Vancouver is going to court in a bid to demolish the expropriated home of a woman accused of standing in the way of a $198 million highway project.

According to documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court, the homeowner — Juanna Patricia Hanlon — says she needs more time to pack up a lifetime's worth of belongings.

"Frankly, our client feels that she is being beaten up by a large powerful bully," Hanlon's lawyer wrote in a letter filed as part of correspondence with the district.

"And, we remind you, our client is already in a fragile and distressed state of mind because her home is being taken away from her and all of her possessions and records are being placed in jeopardy."

Front yard needed for water line

An application for an injunction that would force Hanlon to vacate the home immediately is set for Friday morning.

The district claims the one-storey, two-bedroom house threatens the timely completion of the Lower Lynn Interchange Project, "which is intended to alleviate traffic congestion in the vicinity of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge."

"The house on the property must be demolished for the project to continue," the application says.

This photograph, filed in B.C. Supreme Court, indicates lanes of a new highway at the foot of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge. The red arrow indicates Juanna Hanlon's expropriated home. (District of North Vancouver/B.C. Supreme Court)

According to an affidavit from Mike Farnyuk, senior project supervisor, the house currently sits on land intended for parts of the new sanitary sewer, storm sewer, and gas lines.

"A new water line will run through the front yard," Farnyuk wrote.

Farnyuk claims that there is "potential risk of delay" if the house isn't destroyed by next Monday and a "serious risk" if it's not destroyed by May 27.

'High handed and offensive'

B.C.'s Expropriation Act gives local governments the ability to purchase property at market value without the consent of the owner.

According to documents filed with the court, the market value of Hanlon's home was $1.75 million. Her last land assessment was $1.08 million.

The district appropriated the house at the end of November 2018 and Hanlon was told she had four months to leave.

But her lawyer's letter says she disputes the price being paid.

This B.C. government drawing shows the planned improvements for the Lynn Valley Interchange. The house that once belonged to Juanna Hanlon is not part of it. (B.C. Ministry of Transportation)

The lawyer, Julian Porritt, wrote that Hanlon had no clue how to fight the expropriation process and had difficulty navigating the bureaucracy. He accused the district of being insensitive.

"Some officials have referred to our client as a hoarder. It is true that our client has a lot of belongings. She bought and paid for her belongings and is entitled to keep them. They are important to her," Porritt wrote.

"Our client disagrees and is offended by this characterization of her. It is high handed and offensive."

'She is asking at a human level'

Porritt's letter claimed Hanlon has amassed "a large quantity" of paperwork that relate to the breakup of her marriage, business matters and "other matters of extreme importance"

"Frankly the quantity of paper is massive, and she needs time to work through and organize the paperwork," Porritt wrote. 

"It is not simply a matter of dumping the paperwork into boxes."

To make matters worse, Porritt claimed Hanlon's house was broken into and the intruders threw her paperwork throughout the home: "As a reminder, the District of North Vancouver erected orange plastic fencing at our client's property and that created the appearance of a vacant house."

Hanlon had asked to defer the change of possession until the end of June. The letter from her lawyer disputed the suggestion that there is a "pressing need" for her to move.

"She is asking at a human level and is hoping for a non-bureaucratic/human response that will allow her to stay in her home a bit longer and organize her departure in a way that she can live with," Porritt wrote.

"The present time line is simply too hard."

About the Author

Jason Proctor

@proctor_jason

Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and mental health issues in the justice system extensively.

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