Professor claims Queen’s owes over $11.5 million for expropriation

Settlement unlikely between psychiatry professor and University 

The new medical building opened in 2011, three years after the expropriation.

In an ongoing Ontario Municipal Board case, a Queen’s professor is accusing the University of taking her properties without proper compensation, with damages in the case exceeding $11.5 million.

The case, which has been filed under the Expropriations Act, was received by Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario on May 19, 2015.

The Expropriation Act allows a municipality, approval authority or public agency to take property for a purpose deemed to be in the public interest despite the opinion of the land’s owner.

The claimant, Dr. Dijana Oliver, is a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry and owns the two companies named in the claim: JSN Properties Inc. and Cosmedx Incorporated.

According to Oliver’s claim, Queen’s expropriated her two properties on campus — 80 Barrie St. and 9 Arch St. — to develop the new School of Medicine building, without proper compensation.

At the time, all five residential units and eight of the commercial units at 80 Barrie St. along with the residential unit at 9 Arch St. were occupied by tenants.

On Nov. 7, 2008 Oliver entered into an agreement to sell both properties to an outside company, 114152 Ontario Limited. The two parties, according to the claim, agreed on a total value of $8,950,000 for the deal.

That’s when Queen’s entered the picture. After Oliver entered the agreement, Queen’s notified Oliver’s representative that they would be expropriating the properties — meaning she would no longer be able to complete her planned transaction, according to the claim.

“[The transaction] was frustrated by the expropriation processes initiated by Queen’s University,” Oliver’s claim states.

Under the circumstances, Oliver complied with the University and on Feb. 26 2009, Queen’s paid Oliver the amount of $1,745,000 — a fraction of the planned sale value.

Six years later she filed the claim that she hasn’t received proper compensation. The case has been ongoing for the past year.

Oliver is seeking compensation for the market value of both properties, as well as compensation for damages which are “natural and reasonable consequence of expropriation”.

After the expropriation, Oliver purchased a replacement property at 128 Ontario St on Aug. 7 2009 for $1,851,000.

According to her claim, the property is at a “considerable distance” from Queen’s main campus.

128 Ontario St. had been vacant for roughly 10 years prior to Oliver’s purchase. It was “effectively an empty shell, and required extensive modifications” according to her claim.

During renovations, none of the units were able to be leased, which incurred significant carrying costs through property taxes and mortgage interest.

At the time of the claim in 2015, Oliver did not have the funds required to complete the renovations, because Queen’s “failed to provide fair compensation.” For the costs of renovations and disturbances, Oliver’s claim seeks $2,500,000 and $400,000 respectively.

As well, the claim states that Oliver lost more than 50 percent of her commercial tenants and all of her residential tenants throughout this process, equal to $1,330,000 for disturbance damages.

Further losses were incurred due to events prior to the expropriation, as Oliver had commissioned a redevelopment plan on 9 Arch St. and just completed repairs at 80 Barrie.

These costs, which the claim estimates at $55,000, were never compensated by Queen’s.

Oliver is also making a case for the hours lost due to this case, seeking an additional $36,000 — $180 per hour for 200 hours lost, as well as all legal, appraisal and other costs for the claim.

Furthermore, Oliver is seeking interest on the full value of all her claims.

When approached for a comment, University Communications Officer Chris Armes said that Queen’s was not in a position to comment on the case.

“The case has not yet come before the Board for a hearing”, Armes wrote in a May 30 email.

According to Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario Communications Consultant, Karen Kotzen, the hearing has been delayed because of a request made by parties involved.

When asked about the current state of the case, Oliver stated in an email that the matter is “not on hold [and] never was”.

Oliver also indicated in her email that she had changed legal counsel “because there doesn't appear to be possibility of settlement.”

Oliver and her new representation plan to continue with court proceedings against Queen’s.

The Journal will update this story as more information becomes available. 

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