Expropriation for Scarborough subway extension an unnecessary evil

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A common test of whether a proposed expropriation is legitimate is whether it is “fair, sound, and reasonably necessary.” Expropriations for the Scarborough subway extension fail all three tests. Continue reading

If we build it, will they come? Expropriating land for economic development dreams

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Brockville, Ontario’s, plans to expropriate land for an industrial park illustrate the problems that may arise when municipalities act as developers. Continue reading

Leviathan: Is Resistance Futile?

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In this conference presentation, Elizabeth Brubaker discusses the expropriation of private property to promote private economic development – a practice that is not restrained by Canada’s constitution or by federal or provincial legislation. She contrasts the unrestricted taking of property in Canada to recent experience south of the border, where 45 states have passed laws limiting the use of expropriation. Continue reading

Windsor confirms place in expropriation hall of shame

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The city of Windsor, Ontario, is infamous for expropriating private property for the benefit of private companies. The city has now outdone itself, taking two homes for an admittedly unknown private use at some unspecified time in the future. In addition to being unnecessary, the expropriation is unfair and economically unsound. Continue reading

Voluntary Exchange: Replacing Expropriation with Respect

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The inaugural issue of Pipeline Observer features an article by Elizabeth Brubaker, who proposes a voluntary siting process for pipelines, transmission lines, and other facilities. Continue reading

Expropriation hearings are charades

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Inquiries into expropriation create a phony sense of participation and empowerment, and do nothing to protect Canadians’ property rights. Elizabeth Brubaker calls on public agencies to provide for due process and take property only when expropriation has been demonstrated to be truly fair, sound, and necessary. Continue reading

Vast wastelands: Premature expropriations plague communities across Canada

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Elizabeth Brubaker writes in the National Post that expropriation is legitimate only for sound projects that are certain to go ahead. Many planners’ fantasies – such as the Fort McMurray arena, the Pickering Airport, and the Black Point quarry – don’t qualify. Continue reading

Expropriation hearings a sham?

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Elizabeth Brubaker writes in the Winnipeg Free Press that a decision by Winnipeg city council will reveal whether a system of hearings designed to protect property owners from unfair or unreasonable expropriation is a sham. Continue reading

Smart alternatives to SmartTrack avoid expropriation

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Toronto Mayor John Tory’s proposed SmartTrack Line comes with a high price tag – not just for the taxpayers who will foot the $8-billion bill but also for those who may lose their homes and businesses to make way for new track or stations. There are smarter, less expensive ways to relieve congestion on Toronto’s roads and subways. Continue reading

An abuse of power?

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Contrary to earlier promises, Manitoba Hydro will expropriate land needed for its Bipole III high-voltage transmission line. The province has waived the legal requirement for a public inquiry into whether the intended expropriation is fair and reasonably necessary. Concerned landowners have turned to the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Associations for assistance in negotiating with the power behemoth. Continue reading

Sustainable mining and quarrying

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Environment Probe takes on provincial mining associations that caution against local decision making. Probe recommends empowering affected individuals and communities to determine whether and how proposed projects will go ahead. To further ensure that mining and quarrying are sustainable, Probe recommends making mining companies bear all their environmental risks and costs. Continue reading

Expropriation in the news: The private projects edition

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This sampling of stories covered by the media in 2014 provides an overview of expropriations undertaken for the benefit of private companies in Ontario. It describes the taking of land for a private transmission line, residential and commercial real estate developments, industrial parks, and an auto plant. Continue reading

Expropriation in the news: The public projects edition

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This sampling of stories covered by the media in 2014 provides an overview of expropriations for roads, sewers, and other public purposes. Despite the public nature of the projects, many of the takings raise troubling questions about the process. Continue reading

Corporate bullying: Expropriating for private purposes in Nova Scotia

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Nova Scotia’s Expropriation Act authorizes the taking of private land for public works and other public purposes. But expropriation in the province increasingly serves private purposes, helping international resource development companies acquire land at reduced prices. This article by Elizabeth Brubaker reviews recent expropriations for three private projects – the Black Point Aggregate Quarry, the Touquoy Gold Mine, and the Maritime Link Transmission Project. Continue reading

Replacing Expropriation with Voluntary Exchange: A Property Rights Approach to Siting Facilities

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In this conference presentation, Elizabeth Brubaker questions whether development that relies on expropriation can ever be truly sustainable. She proposes a voluntary siting process in which developers acquire land or easements from willing sellers on the open market. Continue reading

Expropriation in Canada: Discretion Masquerading as Law

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Although expropriation is one of the most extreme uses of government power, Canadian governments have almost complete discretion over when they resort to it. Governments often justify this violation of their citizens’ property rights as being necessary to carry out public purposes. But expropriations that serve private interests, and those that are unnecessary, have become commonplace. Citizens have little recourse against arbitrary, unfair, and unjustified expropriations. This study by Elizabeth Brubaker provides an overview of federal and provincial expropriation laws. It examines the forums that give landowners only an illusion of meaningful participation in the expropriation process. It looks at a number of disputed expropriations, and at how the courts have grappled with them. And it suggests reforms to better balance the needs of governments with the rights of landowners. Continue reading

The Role of Property Rights in Protecting Water Quality (Revisited)

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A new book on water management features a chapter by Elizabeth Brubaker on the role of property rights in protecting water quality. L’eau entre réglementation et marché, published in France, looks at innovative approaches to managing water quantity and quality and explores market mechanisms that may be more effective and less costly than traditional regulations. Continue reading

Expropriation: Inescapably Necessary, or a Convenient Tool?

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In this conference presentation, Elizabeth Brubaker discusses the expropriation of Frank Meyers’s farm. The case calls attention to problems common in expropriation. The hearing process is a sham; alternatives to expropriation are not fully considered; and financial compensation cannot make everyone whole. Brubaker argues that expropriation should be allowed only when inescapably necessary in the interest of good government. Continue reading