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North Vancouver woman underpaid by $900K for expropriated home, court finds

Click to play video: 'North Vancouver senior loses battle with city hall' North Vancouver senior loses battle with city hall
The North Vancouver District senior who's been fighting city hall over the expropriation of her home for a new highway has lost her court battle. Catherine Urquhart reports – May 21, 2019

The B.C. Supreme Court has ruled the District of North Vancouver undervalued a woman’s home by nearly $1 million when it expropriated the land for highway upgrades in 2018.

Juana Hanlon fought the district over her eviction, refusing to vacate the home arguing the municipality had underpaid her for the land. In 2019, the district obtained a court injunction to force her to move and make way for the $198-million Lower Lynn Interchange Project.

Read more: North Van senior taken to court as district says she’s holding up freeway project

Now, a judge appears to have agreed with Hanlon that she did not get fair market value for her Lynnmour property, and has ordered the district to pay her $900,000 plus interest.

The district had valued the home at $1.68 million, and Hanlon was paid $2 million in November 2018, with the additional sum representing moving costs and other compensation.

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In a ruling posted Monday, Justice David Crerar evaluated appraisals commissioned both by Hanlon and the district, with his decision hinging on how each treated the sale of a comparable property across the street from Hanlon’s.

Click to play video: 'District of North Vancouver homeowner fights city hall over expropriation' District of North Vancouver homeowner fights city hall over expropriation
District of North Vancouver homeowner fights city hall over expropriation – May 15, 2019

That property, a land assembly that saw three lots redeveloped as eight homes, sold in 2015 for $9.6 million, but saw its contracts assigned the following year with a value of $15.1 million, a 42.3 per cent increase.

The district’s appraiser excluded the higher price, arguing it wasn’t clear if the assignments were an arms-length sale and that the property in question was an outlier.

Crerar ruled he was more amenable to Hanlon’s appraiser, who included the higher price, writing that “every new sale in a rapidly-rising market inherently in itself appears to be an outlier,” and that the proximity of the property to Hanlon’s made it by far the best comparison.

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Read more: District of North Vancouver senior ordered to vacate home blocking $200M highway upgrade

However, Crerar did not fully accept the $3.2 million value proposed by Hanlon’s appraiser either.

The ruling notes a failed attempt to sell the property for $1.9 million in 2017 and for $3 million in 2018, along with “opacity” in Hanlon’s appraiser’s methodology.

“In light of all of the circumstances, and the relative limitations of the two sets of reports, the Court sets the appropriate valuation for November 2018 at $2.9 million,” the ruling states.

Along with five per cent interest on the $900,000 sum, the district will also be required to pay Hanlon’s court and appraisal costs.

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