Queen’s counters $11.5 million expropriation case claims

University filed statement of defense against professor

The legal debate over Queen's New Medical Building formally began in 2015.

In the ongoing expropriation case between Queen’s and one of its medical professors, a second document was acquired by The Journal — in defence of the University.

The undated Statement of Defence was submitted by Queen’s lawyer, Tony Fleming to the Ontario Municipal Board. It defends against claims made by JSN Properties Inc. and Cosmedx Incorporated — both owned and operated by Dr. Dijana Oliver.

Back in 2015, Oliver lodged a claim with the OMB, alleging that the University owed her upwards of $11.5 million for the expropriation of 80 Barrie St and 9 Arch St.

The expropriated properties were used to accommodate parts of Queen's New Medical Building. Oliver herself is a medical professor at Queen’s, in the psychiatric field.

When approached for the initial June 6 story in The Journal, Communications Officer Chris Armes said that Queen’s was not in a position to comment until the case came before a hearing.

However, on June 8, Armes indicated that it would be useful to request a copy of a defense document from the OMB.

While the defense document agrees with parts of Oliver’s initial claim, it also counters large portions of her case. It begins with the two properties, which Oliver’s claim identifies as “unique and irreplaceable”.

While Oliver states that the properties were in an area with “an abundance of commercial/retail, social and recreational amenities,” Queen’s alleges that the area is primarily institutional.

“Commercial and retail amenities are limited on the [Queen’s] campus ... residents must travel to downtown Kingston to take advantage of the vibrant amenities offered there,” it reads.

Furthermore, it states that the properties were “neither unique nor irreplaceable”.

They state that 9 Arch Street wasn’t rented out for residential or commercial usage at the time that the property was taken. The other property, 80 Barrie Street, was not permitted for pharmacy use under the zoning by-law, and only held four residential dwellings at the time.

Later in the claim, Queen’s alleges that Oliver factored illegal dwelling units into her claims, and the rent amounts claimed for commercial use aren’t reflective of market rates.

Queen’s statement points out that 80 Barrie St. is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, and that any renovations or repairs would have required permission of Council.

The fair market value of the properties proposed by Oliver in her claim, based on the offer of $8,950,000 from 11452 Ontario Limited, Queen’s statement calls “vastly overstated”.

“The ‘offer to purchase’ .... dated November 7, 2008 was not a bona fide offer from an arm’s length purchase, and does not represent fair market value of the Subject Properties,” the defence statement reads.

“Queen’s and [Oliver] had been in negotiations to acquire the Subject Properties for a considerable period of time prior to [the expropriation in] November of 2008.”

Furthermore, Queen’s alleges that the principal of 114152 Ontario Limited was a tenant of Oliver’s — and continues to be.

“There was no business case or other evidence to suggest that the proposed business venture was viable,” the defence wrote.

The funds lost by Oliver in purchasing other properties following the expropriation, were her own, they claim.

“The fact that the Claimants purchased a vacant shell building that required extensive repairs and renovations is neither a function of nor a reasonable or natural consequence of the expropriation,” the statement reads.

Queen’s requests that the OMB awards Oliver $1,445,000 in compensation for 80 Barrie St., and $300,000 for 9 Arch St. as well, a “modest amount” for disturbance damages.

The collective sum, of around $2 million, is vastly below the compensation of $11.5 million proposed by Oliver in her original 2015 claim.

As of June 8, a hearing between the two parties had yet to be scheduled.

The legal representation of both parties have engaged in a discovery process prior to attempting mediation or settlement — agreed upon by both parties last year — but are now moving towards a hearing.

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