• Trevor Greenway

Expropriation frustration

When Françoise Osborne and Archie Adams got an offer from the MTQ for their house and business earlier this month, they thought it was a joke. Then they started to worry.


Osborne and her husband Adams live along Hwy 105 just north of Wakefield — their property is being expropriated to make way for the Hwy 5 extension, slated to begin next year. Transports Quebec (MTQ) sent them an offer for their land, house and mechanic’s garage, which houses Adams’ business, Garage Adams. According to Osborne and Adams, the offer was way below where it should be.


“What are you going to do with that?” asked Adams, pointing to the $391,247 listed on the official offer sheet. “I can’t even buy another house. This is starting to get stressful. We’re sick of this.”


The threat of expropriation has been looming over the couple for over a decade, but the MTQ has been sitting on its hands for the past four years with minimal communication, leaving the couple in limbo.


Adams said he was planning to expand his garage so his son could work with him, but any money put into the property would have gone up with the impending demolition.


“I was supposed to put in a second bay, and my son was going to come work with me, but I can’t; they won’t let me do anything,” said Adams about the MTQ. “It would have been a family business. Once I retired, my son could have had it all.”


Osborne said that what bothers her most is that it’s clear the lowball offer from MTQ didn’t factor in any sentimental value for the longtime Wakefield couple. They’ve been in the home for the past 22 years; their two sons grew up there and their four grandchildren love visiting “Mushum and Kokum.” Osborne’s mother passed away in the home, and she said her spirit is still there.


“I took care of her for 10 years; my living room was her bedroom,” said Osborne.


“Every time I look in the living room, my mom is sitting with us there. She’s always watching TV with us, so she’s here.”


Walking upstairs, Osborne showed off her craft room, with a spectacular backyard view of the wild Hills. As she peered out the window and took a breath, she said she’s not sure how much longer she’ll have the view for.


“In the back, it’s only a barn; then it’s only field. I don’t have close neighbours. This is my view. Sometimes I am doing crafts and I look out the window and I have deer coming; I [sometimes] have a bear in the backyard. I love it here,” she said.


The offer, broken down, values the three-bedroom house at just $210,800. According to the offer, the land is valued at $48,800, while the garage is worth $71,300. Adams and Osborne were given comparables by Hills real estate agent Malcolm Broom, which show that similar properties sold between $445,000 and $536,000. The couple even got their home assessed privately, and, while they don’t want to disclose the number, it was north of $550,000. The Low Down has seen this assessment.


Osborne and Adams are refusing the offer and said they hope the MTQ comes back with a serious number that will help them transition into a new space. But they know finding a similar property, with mixed residential and commercial use and a garage, will take some time.


The MTQ did not respond by press time.