Business owner on Valley Line LRT path worried about property's fate

The city is seeking the legal ability to take over property along the path of the future Valley Line west LRT and at least one business owner hopes communication improves.

City council will be asked to approve expropriating another 22 properties

Glenora Gallery Picture Framing is among dozens of properties along Stony Plain Road on the list for potential expropriation. (Google Maps)

The city is seeking the legal ability to take over property along the path of the future Valley Line West LRT and at least one business owner hopes he'll be kept in the loop.

On Monday, city council's executive committee will be asked to approve 22 properties that the city could expropriate if needed.

The lot at 12602 Stony Plain Road is on the updated list posted to the committee's agenda Thursday.

Art McMullen owns the Glenora Gallery picture framing business in a building on the lot. He's been there for more than 30 years.

He found out through word-of-mouth that the property is on the city's list of sites to potentially be expropriated.

Since February, he's been renting month to month after the landlord didn't renew his lease.

"It's frustrating because the city doesn't say anything, he told CBC News Thursday. "No one from the city ever contacted us."

McMullen said his landlord tells him not to worry, that construction is still a few years away.

"We're just hanging here, in the wind."

The city needs certain properties to build the 14-kilometre stretch of the Valley Line West LRT from 102nd Street downtown to the Lewis Farms Transit Centre.

The city aims to start building the west part of the Valley Line LRT by 2020.

Coun. Andrew Knack says he's heard more complaints from business operators than property owners.

"A business that may be leasing space ...  there wasn't as clear of an engagement process previously," he acknowledged. "I think that's changed over the last while."

McMullen said he got a letter earlier this week telling him councillors will discuss the expropriation options at a meeting on Monday.

Knack said the city uses the expropriation option very sparingly and even if approved, it doesn't mean the city will take over the land. 

"Expropriation is not something we can just do, just because," he said. "We'd much rather work through an agreement with landowners."

He said the tool can be used if property owners are trying to sell the parcel well above the market rate. 
Construction on the southeast portion of the Valley Line LRT from Mill Woods to downtown is currently underway. (David Bajer/CBC)

"We can't simply say we're going to buy your property for ten times the amount, just because that's what you put forward."

Western Cycle at 10429 Stony Plain Road, Money Mart at 10426 124th Street and Yeg Cycle at 12302 Stony Plain Road are also on the city's recent list for potential expropriation.

McMullen's biggest worry is finding a new site for his picture framing business. He said the places he's looked at so far are about double the price he's currently paying for rent. 

The city hopes to start constructing the Valley Line west LRT by 2020.



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