Landowners would see expanded compensation rights in land expropriation cases if 10 recommendations from the Manitoba Law Reform Commission are adopted.
The commission, which is an independent body which advises the minister of justice, released a report on the Expropriation Act of Manitoba on June 11.
The act sets out the process to be followed by any expropriating authority and prescribes how the owner should be compensated.
Among the most significant of these recommendations, said principal author Cameron Harvey, is one which would allow landowners to submit consultation costs to the expropriating authority for compensation before a final settlement is reached. The settlement process can take months or even years, the report said.
The commission also recommends a requirement that compensation be paid “promptly and in full,” the report said.
Another recommendation asks for wording to be changed so that damages resulting from construction on expropriated land can be eligible for compensation.
The report cites a case in which the driving of piles on the expropriated land caused the former landowner’s house foundation to crack. This damage was deemed ineligible for compensation because the law exempts damage due to construction.
“Other examples include loss of power (gas, electrical) and water and sewage backup from the severance of gas lines, flooding due to the filling of a drainage ditch, (and) crop loss due to preventable dust which prevents pollination,” said Harvey.
A further amendment would cover cases where land is taken from multiple owners for one construction project. Under the recommendation, damages due to construction would be compensable even if they didn’t result from work on the specific piece of land expropriated from the owner.
Other recommendations include changes to laws applying when the authority abandons the expropriated land. Under the recommendation, houses, buildings and structures would be included in the definition of ‘land,’ ensuring the landowner has the right to buy them back in the case of abandonment.
Another would transfer to the Land Value Appraisal Commission authority to hear applications for due compensation. Currently this is the jurisdiction of the Court of Queen’s Bench.
The commission has handed over the recommendations to the minister of justice to review.