BC Transit hopes to build a new bus facility on Gladys Avenue, just south of the Highway 11/Sumas Way junction. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Company alleges City of Abbotsford ripped it off by expropriating land

City says it paid fair amount for future home of transit depot

A local company says it lost millions of dollars when the City of Abbotsford expropriated the site of a future transit depot last year. But the city is denying the allegations.

In a lawsuit filed in Vancouver Supreme Court, Status Electrical Corporation says it signed a conditional contract to sell a large vacant lot it owned on Gladys Avenue last May for $7.25 million. Two months later, the city served Status Electrical with a notice that it planned to expropriate the lands in order to build a new transit facility. Despite that notice, in September, the conditional contract of sale became unconditional, according to Status Electrical’s court filings. It says the payment was set at $6.7 million.

Instead, Status was paid $2.8 million in October, after council voted at an in-camera meeting (not open to the public) to expropriate the property.

Status says it must figure out what to do with “an assortment of assets” stored on the property. The company is seeking costs and compensation as per the provincial Expropriation Act.

In a response filed last week, the city denies that Status Electrical had a valid contract to sell the land before it was expropriated. It says the owners of Status and the purchasing company, Red Valley Enterprises, are either the same, or are closely related and “not arms-length.” The city says the contract between the parties wasn’t binding and the sum cited wasn’t market value.

The city says the amount it paid to Status Electrical was greater to, or equal to, market value. And it has asked that if a judge finds it overpaid, Status be required to repay the difference.

The case remains before the court and the allegations have not been proven.

The assessed value of the properties is not referred to in the lawsuit or the response. But according to BC Assessment, the value of the land was $1.8 million as of July 1, 2016, but rose to $2.93 million as of July 1, 2017. BC Transit has since purchased the site from the city for the same sum paid out during the expropriation process.

The City of Abbotsford says it does not comment on cases before the courts.

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