Nova Scotia

Susan Sutherland gets her right-of-way, but will foot $230K bill

Halifax Regional Council granted legal access to a landlocked homeowner along the North West Arm, however councillors refused to reduce the $230,000 bill.

Northwest Arm driveway dispute is decades old

(Pam Berman/CBC)

Halifax Regional Council granted legal access to a landlocked homeowner in a decades-old driveway dispute along the Northwest Arm, however councillors refused to reduce the $230,000 bill.

Susan Sutherland isn't sure how she's going to come up with the money.

"I don't know how many people who would have $230,000 in their back pocket to pay for access to their home." Sutherland said. "It's not going to be an easy thing for me to do."  

Sutherland has been using a public trail from the Dingle Tower parking lot to reach her property, lugging in groceries and fuel.  

She petitioned the municipality for a second time in 2011 using the Private Ways Act to create a right-of-way over her neighbour's land.   

Her father lost legal access to the property in a 1966 court case. John Keith, the lawyer for Sutherland's neighbours, Dr. Charles and Marie Cron, insists the couple have never been opposed to vehicular access on a per occasion basis. But he adds they did not want a permanent driveway.  

Under the municipal process, and arbitration panel was set up when the Crons and Sutherland could not agree on a compensation amount. It ruled that the Crons should get $168,000 for the land used for the right-of-way, plus the loss of value to their property.  

The bill for the arbritation process itself is $61,583.52. Sutherland had been hoping that council would waive the arbitration costs. Coun. Jennifer Watts tried to do that, but her colleagues did not agree with the move.  

"It's not our job to use public tax dollars to improve the value of somebody's home," Coun. Linda Mosher said. "For us to pay for the arbitration costs is not appropriate."

Mosher questioned how the city will ensure the total bill is paid by Sutherland. City officials said a lien can be placed on the property.  

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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