A North Vancouver woman whose home sits smack in the middle of the Highway 1 Lower Lynn interchange project has been given 10 days to clear out her belongings and move.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Michael Tammen made the order Tuesday morning after a court hearing Friday in which Juanna Hanlon squared off against the District of North Vancouver. Hanlon had asked the judge to allow her to stay until the end of June.
But Tammen said she’ll have to go sooner, to make way for a sewer line that must go under her property at the end of May. Before that can happen, her house must be cleared of asbestos and demolished, he noted.
Originally, the municipality had requested an order that Hanlon pack up and leave by the beginning of this week.
The municipality first gave notice it was expropriating Hanlon’s property at 750 Forsman Ave. in September 2018 and completed the process in November, paying her $1.75 million for the market value of the property, according to court documents. The district gave Hanlon an original date of March 31 to get out.
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But since then, she’s refused to budge or clear her belongings out of the home she no longer owns, municipal lawyer Paul Hildebrand told the judge on Friday.
Hildebrand said Hanlon is essentially “a squatter on our property at this time.”
The municipality has been “more than reasonable” in allowing Hanlon extra time to pack up her belongings, said Hildebrand.
But now her refusal to leave is threatening to hold up work on the $198-million highway project, and cause significant delays, Hildebrand said. According to court documents filed by the municipality, parts of the new Keith Road alignment, and new sewer, gas and water lines will all run through the property.
“This is a public work, a public benefit,” said Hildebrand, adding there is no exceptional circumstance that would justify not granting an injunction.
Hildebrand said the municipality has already paid “a very handsome amount” to Hanlon, including $20,000 for moving expenses.
The district has also agreed to pay for Hanlon to stay in a hotel for a week and for her to store her belongings in a storage locker for a month, he added.
Hildebrand added Hanlon’s is not a “hardship case at all,” pointing out that Hanlon owns five properties in B.C. and has hired lawyers to deal with previous legal issues.
“The district waited as long as it could before taking legal action,” he said.
But Hanlon, who represented herself in court, told the judge she hasn’t been able to pack up the home she’s occupied for several decades in a few months. She asked for more time.
Hanlon said the expropriation has been stressful. “I find dealing with all this extremely wearing,” she told the judge, her voice breaking. “This is exhausting.”
She said there are many papers in her home connected to legal cases she has been involved in.
“There is a lot of stuff,” she said.
Hanlon said it’s never been her intention to hold up work on the highway.
“As fast as I can, I’ll be gone,” she told the judge, adding it’s not comfortable for her to live in the middle of a highway construction zone.
Tammen told Hanlon in court Friday she needs to get her things out of the house and probably needs to get some help doing that.
The sewer line that needs to go across Hanlon’s property is “a pretty major undertaking from an engineering perspective,” he noted.
Project supervisors have estimated it will take 10 days to get asbestos taken out of the home before it can be demolished, he said. “There’s a potential for a domino effect with delays mounting up.”
Under the order granted by Tammen, the municipality will also pay Hanlon $1,400 in advance for a week’s hotel stay.
She told the judge it will still be difficult to find another place to live and move in a short space of time.
Outside the court on Friday, Hanlon said dealing with the expropriation has been “extremely stressful.”
So far, she still isn’t sure where she will go when she has to leave, she said.
She indicated in court that she still plans to fight the district over the amount the municipality paid for her property.
Hanlon declined to comment following the decision.