City moves to expropriate townhouse complex in Eau Claire to make way for Green Line LRT
Owners consider next move while city says it would prefer negotiated settlements
The River Run townhouse complex in Eau Claire is not even 30 years old, but it will soon be demolished to make way for a new underground LRT station as part of the multibillion-dollar Green Line project.
The city officially filed its intention to expropriate 23 units in the four building complex that is adjacent to the fading Eau Claire Market and the Bow River.
"Now that we've moved into the development phase, we need to ensure that all land is available in 2024 for main construction, said Wendy Tynan, the executive director of stakeholder relations and communications for the Green Line project.
Tynan says expropriation is always "the option of last resort," but the move was needed to ensure all of the properties are acquired by mid-2024.
The area will be redeveloped along with an underground station that will serve as the northernmost stop of the first phase of the project.
The city says the Eau Claire station will be "designed in a way to allow private development to occur above the station in the future."
The city says the site acquisition shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Tynan says negotiations with property owners started about three years ago.
"We've been very clear since 2020 about our timelines and the need to acquire properties," she said.
CBC News spoke with several townhome owners, some of whom expressed anger at how the city has treated them. They say they won't speak publicly until they meet with their lawyer.
The city says one negotiated agreement has been reached with one of the owners, while "active" negotiations continue with two others.
"Negotiating is still our preferred option. And so we would absolutely encourage any property owner to work with our real estate team to get to that negotiated agreement," said Tynan.
"It's a hard decision and it's not a decision that the city or Green Line takes lightly.… Our goal is really to make sure that owners receive fair compensation for their property, and hopefully we can do that through a negotiated process."
Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.