Yes, in their backyard – but on their own terms

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The summer issue of Pipeline Observer makes it clear that many landowners’ concerns about the pipelines and transmission lines that cross their property do not reflect run-of-the-mill NIMBYism. These owners support energy development, but want to be respected as partners in the process. The magazine includes several articles critical of expropriation, including two by Environment Probe. Continue reading

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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

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

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

Stop expropriation abuse!

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Expropriation – the taking of land without the consent of the owner – is one of the most extreme uses of government power. It is not only a severe interference with private property rights but is also bad for the environment, the economy, and public morale. Expropriation is particularly repugnant when done for the benefit of private interests. Continue reading

Expropriation Gone Awry: A Case Study

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In this conference presentation, Elizabeth Brubaker discusses the city of Toronto’s expropriation of six properties on the northeast corner of Yonge and Dundas in order to make way for a multi-screen cinema, restaurants, shops, and offices. Brubaker argues that forcibly taking land from private owners and re-selling it to private developers was an abuse of the city’s powers. She calls for an overhaul of the expropriation process to ensure that property is taken only for legitimate public uses and that landowners are treated fairly. Continue reading

Environment Commissioner targets environmental liability limits

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Canada’s outgoing Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development has used his final report to Parliament to call attention to policies that limit the financial exposure of potential polluters. His recommendations to update liability limits don’t go far enough. Continue reading

Power to the people

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Several recent surveys have revealed that Canadians distrust federal politicians, feel they have little in common with them, and doubt they are equipped to address important issues facing the country. These findings confirm the importance of Environment Probe’s work to empower individuals and communities. Continue reading

Take back the environment!

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In the last year, we have witnessed an unprecedented roll-back of environmental regulation across Canada. Federal and provincial governments alike have reduced their oversight of polluting industries and weakened citizens’ rights to protect themselves and their environment. The systematic weakening of environmental regulation has created a vacuum that needs to be filled. But we don’t simply need new regulations. We need a better process – one that returns environmental protection to affected citizens. Continue reading