Lonely Oak

Lonely Oak

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Divisional Court upholds OMB on question of reduction in market value for contamination

The City of Toronto appealed an OMB decision awarding more than $3.3 million for market value on the expropriation of a contaminated property.  The property in question was the former site of a soft drink manufacturing plant; the expropriation was required in order to install an underpass at Dufferin Street in Toronto beneath a rail corridor.  Through testing, a City consultant had identified various contaminants on the property, including vinyl chloride (VC) and tetracholorethylene (TCE).

Although there was no requirement to remediate the property, the City's expert witness at the OMB hearing suggested that remediation might be warranted based on a risk assessment and that the cost of remediation of the TCE would be $355,000.  To deal with the VC, a $40,000 upgrade to basement ventilation would be required.  As a consequence of these findings, the City's appraiser estimated that market value of the property should be subject to a reduction of $580,000.

The OMB accepted the evidence of the landowners that there was no risk to human health or to the environment from the presence of the contaminants and that no remediation was needed.  However, the OMB did deduct $20,000 from the market value for air sampling and $10,000 for the drilling of additional bore holes. 

The City appealed the market value award (as well as an award of business losses) arguing that the OMB should have deducted something for the contamination because the land was not "pristine" and that the OMB erred in relying on 2009 environmental standards when the valuation date for the expropriation was in 2005.  The Divisional Court ruled that it was reasonable for the OMB to reject the City's expert's evidence about a "potential 'ball park' worst case scenario" concerning the contamination.  There was no basis on which to find that the market value should be reduced on account of the contamination present.  Also, the Divisional Court found that the landowners' expert witness testified on the basis of standards that were available in 2005, even if he made reference to the 2009 standards as well.

The Divisional Court dismissed the City's appeal and awarded the landowners' costs of $25,000.

Read the decision at: City of Toronto v. Simone Group Properties Limited.