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Paradise buys land to protect Octagon Pond, trail

By Kyle Reid | Jan. 28, 2021

The Town of Paradise has moved to fully purchase a long-vacant piece of property on Topsail Road near Octagon Pond, after already owning a section of the property for nearly two years.

At last week’s meeting, council agreed to buy the property at 1717 Topsail Road, which is directly near the Octagon Pond trail section that intersects with Topsail Road. The location was previously home to an antique shop and a furniture repair store.

However, first council members had to deal with an already negotiated expropriation for a section of the property — part of Phase 3 of the Topsail Road widening project, which began in spring 2019.

“The Town required property from the parcels along Topsail Road, including 1717 Topsail Road, to install sidewalks.” explained councillor Deborah Quilty, who chairs the infrastructure and engineering committee. “The Town received expropriation approval, and the land belongs to the Town; however, compensation was never provided due to ownership issues.”

Quilty said the purchase of the partial piece of land was valued at $26,800 for 268 square metres of land. The expropriation was budgeted under plans for Phase 3 of the Topsail Road construction project, she added.

Councillor Kimberly Street questioned why it took so long for the Town to pay out to the property owner. “Is this something that happens normally?” asked Street. “I’ve seen compensation…negotiated during (expropriation). I don’t know if I’ve seen it to be a few years later.”

“Sometimes these things take a while to get sorted out,” replied Mayor Dan Bobbett, referencing the ownership issues.

After council unanimously approved to pay for the expropriated piece of land, Quilty brought forward a second motion dealing with the rest of the property.

Quilty explained that Town staff appraised the remaining area of the property at $205,000, which was agreed upon by the owner. The makes the total cost of the property $231,800, with the largest portion coming from the 2021 Town budget and the smaller part from the 2019 budget.

“The purchase of this property aligns with the Town’s strategic goal to protect green space and waterways,” said Quilty. “The Town’s acquisition of the property will ensure that it is not developed in a way to harm the ecosystem of the pond.”

Before the purchase was put to a vote, Street noted the area had received interest from several parties for business development, but due to zoning issues, and the lack of a parking area, the Town was unable to approve any of the requests.

According to council minutes, in May 2019 council received an application for a dog daycare and grooming business in the location, which was refused as it was contrary to the Town’s development regulations. Similarly, a barbershop was refused for the same reason in June 2019.  

“Many people didn’t realize that most of the parking area you see now is not actual allowable parking,” said Street. “The Town taking ownership of this property and turning it into a recreation amenity will add to the overall aesthetic of the area.”

Council voted unanimously to approve the purchase of the remainder of the property.

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