City could appeal expropriation ruling for Spring Garden area

Spring Garden Natural Area in WIndsor on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (Rich Garton / CTV Windsor)

Windsor is the loser in an historic compensation case for property expropriation around Spring Garden Natural Area.

After a ruling from the local planning appeal tribunal, a family who once owned land on the property has been awarded millions of dollars.

The city changed its plan from making Spring Gardens residential development to natural heritage 22 years ago.

The city began expropriating nearly 1500 private lots in 2004 to protect the natural area.

"It's never been developable land, which is why it's called an ANSI, and area of natural and scientific interest," says Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens.

One family believes otherwise. The Paciorka's owned hundreds of lots on the property, and took the city to the Ontario Municipal Board over the value of the expropriation.

In 2009, the OMB sided with the Paciorka family, ordering the city to pay $4.5 million, plus interest.

The city's lawyer Pat Brode says Ontario's expropriation act allows previous land owners to come back and ask for more money.

So the city appealed that decision and the case has since been passed on to the local planning appeal tribunal.

The family believes the land would be worth more if it was used for residential development and last week the tribunal decided in their favour, awarding the Paciorka's $2.8 million, according to their lawyer Jason Beitchman.

“Obviously the family is very pleased. It's been a long road for them," says Beitchman.

He adds anyone that has their land expropriated or taken away by the government for public purpose is entitled to fair compensation.

Dilkens believes other former Spring Garden landowners will use this case as the bench mark for their own expropriations, costing the city tens of millions.

“It basically sets the floor for all the other applicants to come forward and say in this decision the price was X therefore we should get X-plus," says Dilkens.

The city now has six weeks to appeal the latest decision and Dilkens says he will meet with council to decide the next steps.

“Based on all the information that I've received to date and the conversations that I've had that administration will be recommending city council to appeal," says Dilkens.