• Homeowner's Remedy for Road Construction Headaches
  • September 26, 2006 | Author: Vicki Giannacopoulos
  • Law Firm: McLennan Ross LLP - Edmonton Office
  • Road construction seems inevitable in the summer, and with it comes endless traffic and frustrated drivers. But drivers are not the only ones inconvenienced by road construction, as a recent Alberta Court of Appeal decision shows (Gravel v. City of Edmonton (2005 ABCA 374)).

    In 2004, the City of Edmonton acquired several houses along 99 Street so it could widen the road to improve traffic flow. Mr. Gravel lived next door to a house the City tore down. He claimed the widening of the road and removal of the neighbouring house led to a devaluation of his property. Mr. Gravel brought an action before the Alberta Land Compensation Board seeking damages from the City for the devaluation of his home as a result of increased noise, traffic, toxic fumes and shaking of his property. Section 534 of the Municipal Government Act  permits a person who has an interest in land to seek compensation from the municipality for loss or permanent lessening of use of the land caused by a public work or structure.

    The City argued that because Mr. Gravel’s property was still being used for its original purpose, as a residential property, no damage was suffered due to the road widening.

    The Alberta Land Compensation Board ruled in Mr. Gravel’s favour and awarded him $6,500 for permanent lessening of use of his property. The Board held that factors such as peace, clean air, safety and pleasantness of surrounding environment all affect the use of one’s home. The City of Edmonton appealed.

    The Court of Appeal upheld the Board’s decision. The Court assessed Mr. Gravel’s damages by having an expert value two similar properties, one next to a busy road and one some distance away. The damages were the difference between the value of the houses.

    Most Alberta cities are undergoing major infrastructure changes to accommodate growing populations. Homeowners should be aware of the avenues of recourse available to them, should their property be affected by these changes.