Our clients ran a small trucking company. Their office and yard where they kept their trucks and equipment were conveniently located beside the highway, and they leased part of their property to a neighbouring business for parking. They were served with a Notice of Expropriation from the Ministry of Transportation advising them that the Province was widening the highway and would require part of their lands. With the Notice, they also received an Offer to Sell Agreement for the acquisition of the land, signed by the Ministry. Our clients were not sure what their rights were or what they should do and came to Lawrences for help.
By reviewing the Notice of Expropriation, we first determined that the proposed widening would not prevent our clients from operating their business, but it would take the majority of the lands they leased to their neighbour, all of the entrance landscaped gardens, and some signage on their property. They would also need to construct a new driveway with sufficient truck-turning ratios for their own continued business operations. The Offer to Sell had two proposed prices, the first being a fixed price for the lands with a Full and Final Release, with no further negotiations permitted. The second option was a lower price, but permitted the owners to accept a prepayment while a claim for a larger amount could proceed. We advised our clients to accept the second option. Our clients’ claim was much more extensive than just the dollar value per acre for the lands the Ministry would take, and even that was too low. Although we did not consider that it would be worthwhile to conduct a “Hearing of Necessity” to ensure that the taking of the land was “fair, sound and reasonably necessary,” we did advise that in our view, they also needed to do the following:
- retain a qualified appraiser for an opinion on the value of the land to be taken as well as any loss in value of our client’s remaining property;
- claim for the lost rent due to the fact that the parking area could no longer be rented to the neighbour;
- claim for the construction costs of a new driveway and truck-turning access;
- claim for business losses during the construction and any further effects upon the business operations due to the smaller lot size;
- claim compensation for the loss of trees, landscaping and signage; and
- claim for the cost of their legal advice and representation.
Our clients proceeded to accept the second Offer to Sell price, accepted a prepayment. We then negotiated on their behalf for further compensation based upon the above claims. We were successful in negotiating compensation for all of these items, resulting in a total overall claim of almost three times the initial offer, with our clients’ full cost and expenses reimbursed.