City Wins Lengthy Court Battle Over Riverfront Land Expropriation

It has taken the City of Windsor over 20 years, but it appears the legal battle over a piece of riverfront land is done.

It concerns a piece of property next to the Art Gallery of Windsor that was previously owned by London-based, Shergar Developments.

The city initially expropriated the property in 1998 and a legal fight over the right to do so ended up in Windsor's favour in 2005.

But the developer took the battle to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) despite an offer from the city of $1.2-million for the land.

Windsor Senior Legal Counsel Patrick Brode has been working on the file for two decades and says when the developer lost at the OMB, the issue of legal costs went to divisional court.

"It was the city's position that we relied on that the city council had made an offer to settle this hoping to avoid the costs of a trial prior to all this breaking out."

He says the three-panel Divisional Court was very clear that Windsor was in the right.

"They ruled that in these circumstances, the city's offer was more than fair and they should not have incurred the cost of this hearing. They ruled that Shergar would not get its costs — in fact, the city would be reimbursed for all that it expended during that hearing."

Lasly, Brode says the ruling is a message to other municipalities.

"The court made it very clear that the when municipality, Windsor or any municipality, makes an offer to settle in these expropriations and it's a fair one, it gives the owner of the property full compensation for what they've lost, that it's not really appropriate for them to proceed and say I don't care I'll just take a shot before the courts anyway and see what happens."

When all the payments and counter payments are calculated, Shergar owes the City of Windsor more than half a million dollars.

Brode says there is one slim window of opportunity left for Shergar to drag the fight out further.

He says they can apply to the Ontario Appeals Court for the right to appeal — which if not automatic — within 30 days of the ruling early this week