Southeast LRT expropriation process frustrates residents

EDMONTON- Some residents in the King Edward Park neighbourhood are voicing their frustrations over the idea of moving out to make way for the southeast LRT.

The southeast Valley Line will see the LRT extended from downtown to Mill Woods, going through the south Edmonton neighbourhood.

Last March, the city approved the expropriation process to acquire privately-held property in order for the project to go ahead. The city hopes to begin construction on the project in 2015, if all the funding is in place.

The 27 kilometre route will affect about a dozen homes in the Strathearn, King Edward Park and Avonmore areas. Homeowners have started to receive letters notifying them of the process, however, some say more communication is needed.

“No one’s really heard a whole lot,” said King Edward Park resident Joe Hrachy. “Even the people across the road, they don’t know when we’re supposed to go, when we’re not supposed to go.”

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Hrachy says he moved into the home about three months ago, knowing he would eventually have to move out, but says he’s frustrated by the entire process.

“They’re stomping on the regular tax-paying guy,” he said Saturday. “‘Okay, so you guys are going to be evicted, who knows when.’ I mean, it’s a little frustrating. I don’t know when we’re supposed to go.”

“Nobody’s happy. I certainly can empathize and sympathize with people in that situation. It’s someone’s home and a change like that is very difficult,” said Ward 11 City Councillor Kerry Diotte.

Diotte says he has heard from some concerned residents in his ward. And while he’s happy the project is moving forward, he understands people’s frustrations.

“Change like that is very difficult, but they will be compensated for it and I guess we all have to make some sacrifices in the name of progress at times. But, you know, it is an unfortunate situation because everybody loves their home.”

In total, the city needs 32 residential properties and parts of seven other properties for the southeast portion of the Valley Line.

The city says property agents will negotiate in order to reach an agreement with homeowners to buy the properties for fair compensation. However, if a property owner and the city property agent cannot reach an agreement to purchase the property, as a last resort, the city may proceed with expropriation of the property, according to the city’s website.

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The $1.8 billion extension is currently short $515 million. The city hopes $150 million of that will come from an Ottawa infrastructure fund and the remaining $365 million will come from the province.

With files from Shannon Greer, Global News.

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