Homeowners on Dawes Road want more money from city for expropriation

Some homeowners in the Dawes Road and Victoria Park Avenue area are battling the city over the expropriation of their townhouses, saying the amount the city is offering isn't close to market value and doesn't cover their moving costs, legal fees or the inconvenience of being kicked out.

Michael Pritchard and his brother Steve bought their three-storey townhouse nearly seven years ago.

One of the things that appealed to them was that it sits on top of Dawes Road Library.

"It was sort of what caught our eye," said Michael Pritchard. "I don't think there's many places like it in Toronto. The library pays a certain amount for the utilities and we all pay into a reserve fund for the maintenance of the building, so it's a partnership."

But now one of the partners wants out and it's forcing the others to move.  

The city of Toronto is looking to double the size of the library and build a community hub on the second floor. To do that, it has to demolish the eight existing townhouses and that means expropriation.  

A notice was sent out to the owners in 2016 with an initial offer of $390,000 per unit.

Shocked, Pritchard says he and the other owners banded together and sought legal counsel. They refused to sell, so the city upped its price to $415,000.

Still, Pritchard says it's not enough because he never planned on moving. He also doesn't know where he'd get a three-bedroom home for $415,000 in the city.

"[The city] waited until the housing market was absolutely at its peak and then thought, 'We want your houses now and we want them for rock bottom prices.'"   

In 2011, he purchased his townhouse for $245,000. According to the Toronto Real Estate Board's Market Watch, housing prices have nearly doubled since then.

That means Pritchard's unit would sell for something closer to $480,000, assuming there's no bidding war.  

"We're open to negotiation, but it has to be fair. They would have to pay for our lawyers, our land transfer fees, the moving expenses and the inconveniences that they're causing."

The head of the city's Real Estate Services, Joe Casali, wasn't available for an interview. But the department sent CBC Toronto an email stating: "Since the City is in negotiations with the owners of the units, we are unable to address the next steps in the negotiation process at this time. But the City, along with Toronto Public Library, is fully committed to working with the owners to arrive to a solution that is acceptable to all parties."

The renovation of the Dawes library location is part of the Toronto Public Library's long-term plan to maintain and expand its services.

In the plan, the new Dawes Public Library would open in 2020.