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Appeal court dismisses District of North Vancouver's bid to avoid paying woman $900K


B.C.'s highest court has rejected the District of North Vancouver's attempt to avoid paying $900,000 in compensation to a woman whose home it expropriated for highway construction in 2019.

The district paid Juanna Patricia Hanlon $2 million in November 2018 for her home on Forsman Avenue in the Lynnmour neighbourhood.

The advance payment was intended to capture the fair market value of the home and allow the municipality to complete construction on improvements to the Upper Levels Highway.

Hanlon and the district were unable to agree on a final sale price for the property, however, and ended up in court.

In May 2019, the district won an injunction requiring Hanlon to vacate the property by May 31 of that year to allow construction to proceed. 

Hanlon left the property, but took the district to B.C. Supreme Court, seeking additional compensation under the Expropriation Act.

Last year, a judge ruled in Hanlon's favour, finding that the appropriate value for the property in November 2018 was $2.9 million, and ordering the district to pay Hanlon $900,000 to make up the difference between that value and its initial payment. 

On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld the lower court's ruling, dismissing the district's appeal in the case. 

According to the appeal decision, the municipality argued that the Supreme Court judge had erred in three ways:

First, he had failed to appropriately consider the fact that the property was listed for sale in 2016 and 2017 for $1.9 million and received no offers at that price.

Second, the judge placed too much weight on sales across the street from Hanlon's home, which were a land assembly and shouldn't have been considered comparable.

Third, he compounded his second error by using these other sales in calculating the rate at which property values in the district were increasing, generally.

Writing for the three-judge panel, B.C. Court of Appeal Chief Justice Robert James Bauman rejected each of the district's arguments.

He found that none of the objections the municipality raised to the lower court's decision dealt with errors the judge had made in interpreting the law.

Rather, each alleged error amounted, in Bauman's estimation, to a difference of opinion between the district and the trial judge.

"In my view, the judge’s careful review of the evidence and his acceptance, in large part, of the expert opinions tendered by Ms. Hanlon leave the district in the position of endeavouring to retry the case in this court," Bauman wrote. "Absent reviewable error, that is for naught." Top Stories

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