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MTO refuses to divulge expropriation values

The MTO and the Windsor Essex Parkway project are presently expanding the Huron Line expressway that leads to the Detroit Bridge in Windsor, Ontario. To facilitate the project the MTO is expropriating certain properties, six of which lie directly adjacent to my parents property on Villa Paradiso in Windsor. When I say directly adjacent I mean the three properties immediately next to my parents property on both sides. My parents situation will soon be one where they occupy what used to be a luxury home flanked by three vacant and ill maintained properties on both sides.

My parents have contacted the MTO which so far has resisted any effort to similarly expropriate their property for various reasons that make little sense. The MTO has also indicated that no consideration would be given to expropriation until an attempt to sell the property on the open real estate market was first made. My parents see value in this advice and have therefore listed their property with the MLS.

The problem is that they and their real estate agent are critically compromised in their ability to fix a fair market price on the property. The only houses in the area that have sold since the news of the highway expansion broke several years ago are the ones expropriated by the MTO and the MTO refuses to divulge the sale prices of these houses. No houses have sold on their street in over 6 years.

Can the MTO refuse to divulge what it has paid for properties directly abutting that of my parents? Is this tactic, which seems to run counter to fair market practice in real estate, actually legal? Does the MTO have a history of refusing to divulge expropriation values and, if so, has it been challenged in the past and to what effect?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Re: MTO refuses to divulge expropriation values

You should consult a lawyer for advice about whether the MTO has any duty to disclose purchase prices for properties that it has acquired. However, you should also keep in mind that MTO purchases are not part of the normal market place and the prices paid may not provide good evidence of fair market value.

Re: MTO refuses to divulge expropriation values

Thanks for the reply J.B.,

We understand that the MTO purchase price of adjacent properties may not accurately reflect current market value of that of my parents. However, knowing these prices would at least eliminate a significant disadvantage my parents would suffer in any potential negotiations with the MTO over their property in the future. We plan to have the property professionally appraised by an appraiser experienced with the city and the project to determine fair market value.

We have also considered a lawyer but believe it may be a bit premature to spend money on one at this point. We have just learned that The Windsor Star newspaper will be filing a Freedom of Information request to have the MTO reveal the price it paid for ALL properties bought to clear the way for the Windsor-Essex Parkway project. We will send an FoI request to the appropriate MTO office as well (easy and cheap to do) to inquire about 6 properties on my parents' street.

I am really interested to hear from someone who may have knowledge of any prior event where the MTO may have been challenged over a refusal to reveal purchase prices and what the outcome of that event may have been? This might provide some important precedent.

Thanks again,