The City of White Rock expropriated this lot, at the northeast corner of Johnston Road and Russell Avenue, from Imperial Oil last year. It’s now the subject of a civil suit. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Imperial Oil files suit over White Rock expropriation

City ‘significantly undervalued’ former gas-station site: claim

Imperial Oil Limited is suing the City of White Rock for compensation in connection with the expropriation of an uptown lot eyed for the city’s ‘Town Square’ park.

In a claim filed May 28 in B.C. Supreme Court, Imperial Oil says the city “mistakenly relied on an appraisal report that undervalued the Lands” when it paid $4,868,100 for the 1510 Johnston Rd. property.

READ MORE: City to expropriate site for ‘Town Square’

“The Payment tendered to the Plaintiff is insufficient to meet the requirement under the Act to compensate the Plaintiff for the Expropriation of the Lands,” the claim states.

The City of White Rock started expropriation proceedings in April 2018, following a council decision made during a closed meeting and made public later the same day.

The property, approximately 14,420 square feet at the northeast corner of Russell Avenue and Johnston Road – south of the Playhouse – is the site of a former gas station, but has been vacant for more than two decades.

It was used as a pay-parking lot to raise funds for local Rotary Club projects for over a decade, and now offers three hours free parking.

At the time the expropriation plan was announced, then-mayor Wayne Baldwin said it was consistent with the city’s Town Centre Urban Design Plan created in 2011, and that the acquisition “is an investment which will benefit generations to come.”

In the civil claim, Imperial Oil notes the “highest and best use for the Lands was high to medium density multi-unit residential development with commercial use at grade as part of a land assembly calculated to maximize potential density.”

“At all material times, the market value of the Lands was substantially higher than the Payment tendered by the Defendant.”

The lot is the same area where drilling work in January of 2018 frustrated merchants.

At that time, an Imperial Oil spokesperson confirmed the work was “to collect additional environmental data associated with a former service station.”

According to the civil claim, Imperial Oil is seeking relief including a declaration for compensation due, a judgment for the difference determined “to be due and owing” and interest from June 12, 2018.

The City of White Rock has not yet filed a response.

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