Shuswap man loses chunk of land to Trans-Canada expansion - InfoNews

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Shuswap man loses chunk of land to Trans-Canada expansion

The completed North Fork bridge on Highway 1 between Sicamous and Revelstoke is pictured in this submitted photo.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Government of B.C.
December 19, 2018 - 1:00 PM

SICAMOUS - Rudy Bowolin still finds it hard to believe a chunk of his land has been turned into a four-lane highway.

"It's a major deal," he said.

Bowolin owns substantial farm acreage in the North Shuswap. According to court documents, the B.C. Transportation Finance Authority took an interest in a portion of that land when they realized they needed space for its North Fork Bridge replacement project on the Trans-Canada Highway between Sicamous and Revelstoke. The Authority offered Bowolin $350,000, then $400,000, for five acres of land. Bowolin turned down both offers.

The Authority executed the Expropriation Act in March 2017, which allows them to expropriate land while compensating the original owners. According to court documents, the Authority's final offer was only $144,740. Bowolin, feeling like he was out of options, promptly sued them.

Initially, Bowolin thought he'd won. A June 2017 Supreme Court decision sided with the landowner, stating the Authority must pay Bowolin costs and return to the negotiating table. The Court also set aside the expropriation notice, theoretically stalling construction.

But less then a year after that decision, the Authority used Bowolin's parcel of land to complete its project.

"They took the land back again," Bowolin said.

The Authority appealed the Supreme Court's decision and found a more receptive audience at the second hearing. An Oct. 24, 2018 Court of Appeals decision upheld the Authority's appeal, reversing the Supreme Court's decision and clearing the way for the Authority to finish its project.

In a written decision, Madam Justice Saunders stated that the Supreme Court erred in setting up a judicial review for the land price when a compensation determination plan is built into the Expropriation Act. Justice Saunders also stated that the Supreme Court erred by setting aside the expropriation notice since, in her view, there was never controversy over its issuance; there was only debate over payment.

The Authority completed the North Fork Bridge replacement project this fall, widening the highway between Sicamous and Revelstoke to four lanes.

Bowolin still feels poorly compensated for the expropriation, although he's at a loss for where to go next.

"Pay us for what we lost, that's all we're asking," he said.

In a written response, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure stated land expropriation is a last resort. They also noted that the North Shuswap landowner has filed for compensation with the courts.


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