Maritime Link expropriation opposed by 16 landowners in Cape Breton

The proponents of the Maritime Link will ask the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to determine a fair market value for 16 properties in Cape Breton County that have been earmarked for expropriation.

300 property deals already settled for Maritime Link power corridor

Percy MacKenzie of George's River is one of 16 Cape Breton residents resisting having their land expropriated for the Maritime Link.

Proponents of the Maritime Link will ask the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to determine a fair market value for 16 properties in Cape Breton County that have been earmarked for expropriation.

The Maritime Link will come ashore to Point Aconi from the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Newfoundland. It will then pass over private properties to Woodbine, tens of kilometres away.

The Link is part of a renewable energy strategy and requires 170 kilometres of subsea high-voltage cables to be built under the Cabot Strait, then above ground through Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

Emera will own the Link and has been working for months with the N.L. power company, Nalcor, to secure a corridor in Cape Breton.

The companies say they have already settled with 300 landowners. There are 16 holdouts.

One of them is 86-year-old Percy MacKenzie of George's River. He says the offer was much too low. 

"They offered me $13,000 for probably seven or eight acres of land," he said. 

MacKenzie also complained the company has removed gravel from a pit on his property without permission or payment.

Percy MacKenzie of George's River says the price offered for his land, shown here, is too low. The property is being expropriated for the Maritime Link. (Joan Weeks/ CBC)

"They took fill right off of the back when they moved in there, for to do whatever they want to do," he alleged.

"Never asked me for it or nothing. Not a word did they ask me."

MacKenzie hired a lawyer. Since then, he says, the negotiations between the parties over a fair price for the land have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

MacKenzie countered the $13,000 offer by asking for $150,000. The companies rejected it.

Now, he says he's so annoyed by the whole thing that "if they turned around now and offered me $150,000 — I told my lawyers — it's turned down automatically 'cause I'm not settling for no $150,000. Now it'll be up at the very least, $180,000."

Emera has served notice to a number of the holdouts that it will ask the Utility and Review Board to decide on a fair market value in order to move forward. 

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