Video: Ontario farmer Frank Meyers managed to hold off the bulldozers one more day, as he battles to maintain the farm that’s been in his family for 200 years. Christina Stevens reports.
TORONTO – Farmer Frank Meyers is claiming he still owns his family’s farmland because his expropriation agreement with the government was signed under duress.
When confronted with Meyers’ accusations of bullying, Public Works spokesperson Pierre-Alain Bujold said only that the government has reached an agreement with the Meyers family regarding compensation for their expropriated land “after lengthy negotiations.”
Meyers told a different story to Global News reporter Christina Stevens on Monday.
“They took me into Toronto for a hearing–ended up signing the papers…I was so stressed out,” he said.
“They’re all bullies…They tell me one thing one day, the next day’s different.”
Meyers signed an agreement at the end of November to give up his land after the Canadian government expropriated more than 200 acres to expand the CFB Trenton military base.
READ MORE: Expropriation rights in Canada
Further questions to the government—including whether Meyers’ assertion that he hasn’t received any of the $1.6 million plus interest compensation he was promised was true—were forwarded to the Department of National Defence on Monday morning.
“The expropriation is complete, and the land is now owned by the Department of National Defence,” said spokesperson Jennifer St. Germain in an email.
“The details of the agreement are confidential.”
St. Germain said the demolition contractors—Belleville’s Parkside Landscaping & Contracting—began work Monday, “but that doesn’t necessarily mean they began demolishing buildings.”
While DND said the contractors set up on Meyers’ expropriated land Monday, the Global News crew didn’t see any workers in or around Meyers’ barns.
Instead, a group of protesters were on site, still fighting to keep the farmland owned by Meyers’ family since 1798.
“I have a squeaky clean record right now, but I wouldn’t mind a trespassing charge…I will stand in front of Frank’s barn,” said protest organizer Lisa Gibson, creator of the “Save Frank & Marjorie Meyers Farm” Facebook group.
Gibson maintains the group and posted updates throughout the morning, urging Meyers’ ever-growing league of supporters to come to the farmland. Some parked trailers on the property in an attempt to keep demolition crews out.
Global News was told that 8 Wing Construction Engineering (8 WCE) is the “local intermediary” responsible for providing updates to Meyers from Ottawa’s project management office, but DND couldn’t specify a timeline for tear-down and development of the farmland.
A budget for the new training facility being built on the land was also unknown, as it’s “too early to discuss associated project costs,” according to DND.
“The next steps in the project will be the demolition of existing structures and removal of debris, further site investigations (such as topographical surveys), and continued work on a highly detailed project design,” said St. Germain.
As Meyers removed machinery and personal belongings from the property Monday morning, DND staff arrived.
Municipal lawyer Stephen D’Agostino said the only way to overturn the expropriation would be for Minister of Public Works Diane Finley to step in.
“Once the papers have been filed, there’s virtually nothing that you can do,” said D’Agostino. “It’s very difficult to overturn an expropriation; I’ve never seen it in my practice.”
With files from Christina Stevens