Mayor Sam Katz described as "unfortunate" the city’s decision to take his former business partners to the expropriation process.
Katz said he wasn’t prepared to comment on the position taken by local developer Shindico that it wants to be compensated for the loss in value to its adjoining property following the construction of the No. 12 fire paramedic station on Shindico land on Taylor Avenue.
But Katz said that Shindico’s bargaining stance might be the result of how its public image suffered for its role in the fire hall replacement program.
"I thought it would be unfortunate to go that (expropriation) route because it’s going to be a heavy expense," he said, adding the administration says it’s been unable to resolve the issue with Shindico.
City hall has been negotiating with Shindico to purchase the Taylor property since November 2012.
Shindico originally offered the property to the city in 2010 for $900,000 but later said it preferred a land swap – wanting three city properties, including two former fire halls and a parcel of riverfront land that the city sold separately this week for $1 million.
The former Berry Street fire hall sold for $257,000 and the city has an offer of $429,000 for the former River Heights hall on Grosvenor Avenue.
The city’s administration allowed the construction of the Taylor fire hall to begin before the land swap was formalized and without council’s knowledge. But angry councillors killed the swap in the fall of 2012 when they learned it hadn’t been completed, which also prompted them to call in outside forensic auditors to investigate the entire fire hall replacement program.
Council ordered the administration to purchase the Taylor land from Shindico but negotiations have stalled.
Shindico officials have refused to comment on the negotiations or the city’s decision to go to expropriation.
An administrative report released last week shows that the two sides are close on the value of the Taylor property -- $1 million versus $1.2 million -- but the hold-up is Shindico’s insistence that it be paid $844,000 for what it says is the loss in value to its adjoining property because of the presence of the hall.
The administration says it can’t support Shindico’s position, explaining that it was Shindico that suggested the fire hall be built on its property.
The property and development committee unanimously endorsed the expropriation move Tuesday and executive policy committee did this morning – with only Coun. Justin Swandel voting against the move.
The expropriation proposal must still be approved by council.
Katz said he wasn’t prepared to comment on Shindico’s position, adding an independent provincial panel will now determine the appropriate price for the property and if Shindico deserves any further compensation.