Landowners still reeling from the news they no longer own strips of their property are adamant that their story is not over yet.
Manitoba Bipole III Landowner Committee (MBLC) member Jurgen Kohler told a packed house at the Carman Legion Hall on Monday that “they still have time.”
About 140 landowners on the Bipole III route – mostly farmers from southern Manitoba – were stunned to learn that the NDP government had waived their right to notice of expropriation last November.
Manitoba Hydro registered their Declaration of Expropriation with the Land Titles office on Dec. 17 and notice was finally served to impacted landowners on Jan. 16.
Kohler said the letter states landowners have until March 16 to let Manitoba Hydro know if they are vacating the land or not.
Then Hydro has until about May to provide an offer of compensation for expropriated land – which the landowners have two years minus one day to either accept or they can apply to the Land Value Appraisal Commission.
Meanwhile, landowners say Manitoba Hydro’s land agent is still trying to get them to sign the original easement agreements.
“There must be a catch-22 in there somewhere,” said MBLC member Thorsten Stanze. “Why would you pay more money and not own it? I personally think they’re paying more money to get rid of, primarily, liability issues.”
WANT ISSUES ADDRESSED
Liability and biosecurity concerns top the list of issues producers have wanted Hydro to take into account all along.
“We’re trying to deal with all these issues beforehand, that’s why we’re big on a business agreement and all these issues that people bring up, we want them dealt with in negotiations,” said Kohler. “For farmers, it’s about how it impacts our operations.”
The landowners maintain that they want to come to a mutually beneficial agreement, but in order to do that Hydro will have to start taking their concerns seriously.
A rally will be held on March 7 at Canad Inns, near Polo Park in Winnipeg.
The time of the rally has yet to be determined but it will coincide with the NDP Leadership Convention.
The landowners want the public to know everyone is welcome, whether they have a stake in this particular battle or not.
MBLC member Colin Penner, who farms near Elm Creek, encouraged everyone to come out and show support at the rally.
“It’s Manitoba’s property rights that have really been violated,” he said. “It’s not just us that are affected – it can affect everybody in Manitoba.”
“A lot of people don’t understand, this a precedent case for Manitoba government,” agreed Stanze. “To say okay, we need something just take it, that’s communism.