SURREY — The provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has been sued for more than $3 million over a dispute concerning land that was expropriated in Surrey to make way for the South Fraser Perimeter Road.
M.C.A. Land Development Corp. and Keystone Forest Products Ltd., a stocking lumber wholesaler that leased the property, sued the government over expenses incurred in relocating the lumber company and business losses they claimed Keystone will suffer in the future.
The 40-kilometre, $1-billion SFPR expressway roughly hugs the Fraser River in Surrey and North Delta and cuts through South Delta to connect Highway 1 with the Roberts Bank Superport.
The Gateway Program expropriated a tract of M.C.A.'s land in Bridgeview under the B.C. Expropriation Act, which essentially removed a large part of Keystone's lumber storage building.
M.C.A. bought replacement land in Bridgeview and began developing it for a new home for Keystone, established in 1980. However, Justice Heather Holmes noted, the development of these lands "proved uneconomic and was discontinued."
That venture had cost the plaintiffs more than $2.6 million before it was aborted in favour of another plan to partially relocate Keystone to some other land.
In March 2009, the parties then agreed to a land exchange under the Act to accommodate Keystone's partial relocation onto some remaining M.C.A. land together with neighbouring Rubber Bumper land, so named after a business that once operated there. The agreement was that the government pay M.C.A. an advance of $360,098 to accommodate the lumber company's partial relocation.
At trial, M.C.A. and Keystone claimed $5,566,867 more in compensation for "disturbance damages" related to the efforts to relocate Keystone, and in business losses.
Counsel for the government argued that many of the plaintiffs' costs were reasonable and not directly attributable to the expropriation, and that Keystone's claims concerning business losses in respect to its new site aren't proven.
On Wednesday, in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, Holmes awarded the plaintiffs $3,481,143 for "disturbance damages," plus PST, GST and HST, for costs related to relocating Keystone but found the lumber company "is not entitled to compensation for future business losses."
She then deducted $121,611, finding the plaintiffs had been "overcompensated" in respect to the land exchange, and also deducted the $360,098 advance.
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