Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Expropriation in Shindico dispute 'unfortunate': Katz

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Mayor Sam Katz said it's "unfortunate" the city is taking his former business partners to the expropriation process.

Katz said he wasn't prepared to comment on the position taken by local developer Shindico, but said Shindico's bargaining stance might be the result of how its public image suffered for its role in the fire paramedic station replacement program.

"I thought it would be unfortunate to go that (expropriation) route because it's going to be a heavy expense," Katz said, adding the administration says it's been unable to resolve the issue with Shindico.

The city has been negotiating with Shindico since November 2012 to purchase the Taylor Avenue property on which the new fire paramedic station No. 12 is built.

Shindico originally offered the Taylor property to the city in 2010 for $900,000 but later said it preferred a land swap -- three city properties, including two former fire halls and a parcel of riverfront land 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 fire hall on Grosvenor Avenue.

The city administration allowed construction of the Taylor fire hall to start before the land swap was formalized and without council's knowledge. Angry councillors killed the swap in the fall of 2012 when they learned it hadn't been completed.

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 the two sides are close on the value of the Taylor property -- $1 million versus $1.2 million -- but the holdup is Shindico's insistence it be paid $844,000 for what it says is the loss in value to its adjoining property because of the presence of the new fire station.

The administration says it can't support Shindico's position, explaining 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 so Wednesday, with only Coun. Justin Swandel voting against the move.

The expropriation proposal must still be approved by council.

Katz said an independent provincial panel will now determine the appropriate price for the property and if Shindico deserves any further compensation.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 20, 2014 B3

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