Keen-eyed observers of the Oct. 4 edition of the Wellington Advertiser would have seen a story regarding the Puslinch Townships’ intention to expropriate a piece of land along Cooks Mill Road, just outside the city of Guelph.
We are the owners of this land and would like to express our concerns with regard to the perceived abuse of the township’s use of its expropriating authority.
The property in question is adjacent to the bridge over the Eramosa River, roughly half way down Cooks Mill Road. The township began repair work to the bridge in July working from a plan that, unbeknownst to us, included the addition of long metal guardrails leading to both sides of the one-lane bridge.
On the first day of road construction, private property along the river that had been densely covered in trees and brush was clear cut, including at least seven mature cedar trees. A significant amount of the river bank and adjoining land was excavated and removed.
Over our objections, the township continued work and added large retaining walls that were partly built on private property and later had to be removed.
A number of days later, we were informed the bridge encroached slightly onto our properties and the township would require our consent to attach the steel guardrails to the bridge.
When we communicated our growing concerns about the project as a whole and our desire to have some input regarding the multiple encroachments onto private property, we were told the project would go ahead as planned without discussion and our land would be expropriated if we did not consent.
The township has now installed long lengths of guardrails where none previously existed and has created a long narrow corridor that now causes cars to have to reverse when faced with oncoming traffic. Additionally, the long guardrails now block access to a section of private property.
With our concerns dismissed by township staff and their lawyer, we requested an on-site meeting with Mayor Dennis Lever and the township CAO, Karen Landry. They declined.
The township has now served us with a notice to expropriate our land while making no effort to take responsibility for the extensive damage this project has caused to private property or acknowledge that this conduct brings into question the soundness of multiple aspects of the entire project.
Had the township engaged with us from the outset, perhaps the Mayor and the CAO would now be spending less time in in-camera meetings and engaging in discussions subject to solicitor-client privilege (not to mention accruing legal fees) and more time working with the township’s constituents to find a mutually acceptable solution.
We have had no negotiations with the township, we have only received ultimatums. Under the circumstances, we believe it is important to oppose this expropriation because no government body should be permitted to expropriate private property out of convenience or to remedy a situation of its own making.
James Kritz (519 820-6935)
Jack and Brenda Darmon (519 824-8195)