District of North Van squares off in court with expropriated owner

District lawyer says woman is a 'squatter' on municipal property

A North Vancouver woman whose home sits smack in the middle of the Highway 1 Lower Lynn interchange project squared off against the municipality that expropriated her property in B.C. Supreme Court Friday.

Now it looks like she’ll have at least a few more days to pack up her possessions.

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The District of North Vancouver is asking for an injunction to force Juanna Hanlon to leave her home, and get her possessions off the property at 750 Forsman Ave.

The district expropriated Hanlon’s home in November 2018 for roughly $2 million, and gave Hanlon four months to leave.

But so far, she’s refused to budge or clear her belongings out of the home she no longer owns, municipal lawyer Paul Hildebrand told a judge on Friday.

Hildebrand said Hanlon is essentially “a squatter on our property at this time.”

Now her refusal to leave is threatening to hold up work on the $198-million highway project, and cause significant delays, Hildebrand told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Michael Tammen in a court hearing.

“This is a public work, a public benefit,” said Hildebrand, adding there is no exceptional circumstance that would justify not granting an injunction.

Hildebrand said the municipality has already paid “a very handsome amount” to Hanlon, including $20,000 for moving expenses.

The district is also willing to pay for Hanlon to stay in a hotel for a week and for her to store her belongings in a storage locker for a month, said Hildebrand.

Originally the municipality gave Hanlon a deadline of March 31 to get out. On Friday, lawyers asked for an injunction forcing her out by the end of the Victoria Day weekend.

Juanna Hanlon says she needs more time to get out of her house. photo Jane Seyd, North Shore News

But Hanlon, who represented herself in court, told the judge she hasn’t been able to pack up the home she’s occupied for several decades in four months, and needs more time.

Hanlon said the expropriation has been stressful.

“I find dealing with all this extremely wearing,” she told the judge, her voice breaking. “This is exhausting.”

She said there are many papers in her home connected to legal cases she has been involved in.

“There is a lot of stuff,” she said.

Hanlon said she didn’t want to hold things up.

“As fast as I can, I’ll be gone,” she told the judge, adding it’s not comfortable for her to live in the middle of a highway construction zone. “I’m living in a fish bowl.”

But the district lawyer said Hanlon’s is not a “hardship case at all,” pointing out that Hanlon owns five properties in B.C. and has hired lawyers to deal with previous legal issues.

“The district waited as long as it could before taking legal action,” he said.

Hildebrand added Hanlon seemed prepared to leave the home at other points in time as she has herself listed the property for sale several times in recent years.

Tammen told Hanlon in court Friday she needs to get her things out of the house and probably needs to get some help doing that.

The sewer line that needs to go in in the area of Hanlon’s property is “a pretty major undertaking from an engineering perspective,” said Tammen.

Project supervisors have also estimated it will take 10 days to get asbestos taken out of the home, he said. “There’s a potential for a domino effect with delays mounting up.”

Outside the court, Hanlon said dealing with the expropriation has been “extremely stressful.”

So far, she still isn’t sure where she will go when she has to leave, she said.

Tammen adjourned a decision on the case until Tuesday.


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