A Regina businessman and the province are flinging accusations back and forth in court documents over another land dispute northwest of Regina.
In 2009, the province expropriated a parcel of land that is now part of the Global Transportation Hub (GTH). Granitewest Industries was the owner of that land, and is now suing the provincial government, accusing it of conspiring with appraisers to come up with a price a third of what the land was worth.
In its statement of claim, Granitewest said an appraisal prepared for it determined the land to be worth $38,000 per acre. Two appraisals prepared for the province said the land was worth $10,000 and $8,750, and another appraisal said the first two were both in order.
Granitewest claims the appraisers the government used specifically excluded three land sales, worth $37,500 per acre, $32,598 per acre, and $42,906 per acre.
Granitewest was ultimately offered $10,843.73 per acre, which in the lawsuit is called “unreasonably low”.
In the lawsuit, the Ministry of Highways is accused of negligence and conspiracy by plotting with the appraisers to exclude the three land sales, thereby keeping the price down. The statement of claim outlines the reason the ministry allegedly gave Granitewest that the price Granitewest bought the land for was used, because it wasn’t considered to be an arm’s-length sale.
The government is also accused of acting in bad faith and misfeasance, in allegedly misleading Granitewest as to whether the land would be expropriated and when it would be acquired.
The suit asks for damages related to the alleged conspiracy and misfeasance, also punitive damages saying Granitewest “is entitled to an award of punitive damages based on the Defendants’ highhanded and callous disregard for its rights and interests”.
In an amended statement of defence, the province not only denied the accusations, but threw out some of its own.
The government claims that Harvey Granatier was the president, shareholder, and directing mind of Granitewest Developments, but was also the director of the Regina Economic Development Authority (RREDA), which is now known as the Regina Regional Opportunities Commission.
In that capacity, the government alleged the RREDA played an integral role in the development of the GTH plan, so Granatier was “privy to confidential or exclusive detailed information regarding development of the GTH, including its proposed location, its potential for future growth, development and investment opportunity”.
The statement of defense alleged a breach of fiduciary duty on the part of Granatier to the RREDA – that he starting buying lands in the area the GTH was going to be soon after the land was identified and shared with the RREDA.
It also accuses Granatier of having his son and daughter-in-law buy land at $4,000 an acre, then Granitewest buying that land for $37,500 an acre soon after. It alleged the head of Granitewest, Harvey Granatier, used his prior knowledge of the GTH plan to acquire the lands, and inflate the sale price.
The government asked for the suit to be dismissed, or alternatively, for it to be joined to an earlier suit brought by Granitewest against the provincial government.
Granitewest tried to have a judge disallow the amendments to the statement of defense which added the information about Grantier and the RREDA, but was unsuccessful.
There are no costs attached to the lawsuit as of publication, and none of these claims have been proven in court.