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Niagara Falls
Sunday, December 3, 2023
Letter of the Week: With expropriations, roundabout could cost $10 million or more
Letter to the editor. File

Dear editor:

I would like to share some budget shock regarding Niagara Region’s proposed St. Davids roundabout at Four Mile Creek and York roads.

I deal in expropriation matters all across the province and I don’t think it is fair that the region is telling the public the estimated cost of the roundabout is going to be around $3.9 million,

A regional environmental assessment includes just $200,000 for property acquisition costs. That amount is not even close to what the final cost is going to be for this project.

This roundabout is more likely to cost $10 million to $12 million (or more) once privately owned land is expropriated.

The region’s $3.9 million estimate is grossly inaccurate due to the costs associated with property acquisition and property impacts.

The only way to get the attention of both the region and the town on the debate as to whether the roundabout is a go or not, is to raise the transparency of the total cost for the anticipated proposed roundabout design.

There will be formal expropriation proceedings and litigation on most, if not all, of the properties affected.

The Expropriations Act is intended to make property owners whole as a direct result of adverse impacts, which there will be an assortment of, including loss of land areas, injurious affection, disturbance damages and business-related losses.

There could also be potential buyouts of entire properties. In these types of situations, there is no budget cap.

The litigation-related costs (ie. legal, appraisal, planning, engineering, relocation, etc.) in addition to property acquisition costs typically can range between about $350,000 and $500,000 or more per property depending on the complexities of each case.

Overall, the current budget costs that are being floated around by both levels of government are a fraction of what the total cost will be.

It would be interesting to see how the region would be presenting its case for the roundabout design if the true estimated costs were to be considered – $10 million to $12 million and perhaps as high as $15 million, depending on the final engineering and new construction design.

If the town was facing a cost-sharing at this magnitude, would Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa still lobby support behind the roundabout design, or, would there be some interest to do some sort of hybrid design that nobody has yet discussed.

Because there is a hybrid design that could potentially work and at a significantly lower cost.

The Expropriations Act is silent on budget estimates.

How the region and the town are managing this file is completely misleading the public interest.

Just imagine having our local politicians and senior government execs agreeing to pay $10 million to $15 million for one roundabout in a small town without conducting a thorough study of the options and legislated cost obligations.

Peter Rusin
St. Davids

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