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“Disguised expropriation”: the government agrees with the cities

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Dec8,2023

« Expropriation of ;guisée » : the government agrees with the cities

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For several years, owners have oppose city conservation projects, claiming loss of enjoyment of their property.

  • Marie-Josée Paquette-Comeau (View profile)Marie-Josée Paquette- Comeau

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Everything indicates that Quebec municipalities will be able to protect their natural environments without fear of being sued by owners. This new legislation, seen as “a giant step”, would allow cities to respect Quebec's commitment to protect 30% of its territory by 2030, but also to save millions of dollars in legal proceedings.

An amendment adopted during the detailed study of Bill 39 indicates that regulatory changes for the protection of the territory will no longer be considered as disguised expropriations .

With Bill 39 amending the municipal taxation law being tabled for adoption today, everything suggests that municipalities will be able to breathe a little. Article 245 mentions that an infringement of property rights is deemed justified if the regulations adopted by municipalities aim to protect a humid and watery environment or an environment with significant ecological value.

For several years, owners have opposed city conservation projects, claiming the loss of use of their property. They then demanded sums considered excessive by the municipalities.

Those days would soon be over. Under the bill, it will become impossible for an owner to sue the city for disguised expropriation. Additionally, Section 245 is declaratory, so it applies to all cases currently before the courts. A major element for the Metropolitan Community of Montreal, which has accumulated lawsuits. To date, the cases filed for disguised expropriation are close to a billion dollars.

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I salute the courage of the government.

A quote from Catherine Fournier, mayor of Longueuil

The mayor of Longueuil, Catherine Fournier, has been campaigning for new legislation in this area since 2020. This is an important paradigm shift, awaited by environmental groups, municipalities and the general population, she said.

The City of Longueuil could therefore proceed to protect 21% of its territory, as announced in its Natural Environment Protection and Conservation Plan presented last October.

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Catherine Fournier, mayor of Longueuil. (File photo)

After years of battle, environmental law lawyer Jean-François Girard is on the verge of opening the bottle of champagne. With the adoption of the bill, its opponents will no longer be able to try to win their case by stipulating that the law on expropriations is nebulous in environmental matters. The legislator has clarified the text. Normally, this should nip any legal challenge in the bud, added the lawyer.

These legislative changes, first included in the project of Law 22 on the Expropriation Act of the Ministry of Transport, were repatriated under the aegis of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This issue directly affects municipalities, these new provisions were therefore added to Bill 39 amending the Taxation Act.

  • Marie-Josée Paquette-Comeau (View profile)Marie-Josée Paquette-ComeauFollow
Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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