Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

«Disguised expropriation

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For several years, owners have opposed city conservation projects, claiming the 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”, should 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.< /p>

An amendment adopted during the detailed study of Bill No. 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 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 demand sums considered excessive by the municipalities.

But this time should 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, cases filed for disguised expropriation are close to a billion dollars.

I salute the courage of the government

A quote from Catherine Fournier, mayor of Longueuil

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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 (Archive 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.

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