Port Hope to honour NRCan agreement, 8/02/12 PDF Print E-mail

Port Hope to honour NRCan agreement

By JOYCE CASSIN Northumberland Today.com

PORT HOPE – Mayor Linda Thompson says the Property Value Protection (PVP) program is clearly defined, and council intends to honour its legal agreement between the municipality and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

“In response to concerns raised in recent months by the public and through the media around the PVP program, the municipality looks to provide some perspective on the intent and administration of the program,” Thompson told council Tuesday night.

She said that the PVP program is a key component of the 2001 Legal Agreement between the Municipality of Port Hope and the federal government — and it “recognizes that the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) creates a risk of financial disadvantages, on an interim basis, to property owners within the defined PVP Zone (all of Ward 1 and part of Ward 2 in Port Hope and a small part of southeast Clarington), particularly those in close proximity to proposed low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) facilities and, “…compensates property owners for any loss of value on the sale of their property, or for loss of rental income and/or for mortgage renewal difficulties associated with the plans or activities of the Port Hope Project and the Port Granby Project.”

“The intent of the legal agreement as it pertains to the PVP program is really to provide an equitable, easily accessible program to mitigate interim negative effects on property values in the PVP Zone, with a clearly defined dispute resolution process in the event an objection of a claim was available,” Thompson said.

But unlike the Port Hope Area Initiative Management Office (PHAI-MO), which evaluates each property individually to determine if it qualifies under the program, she said that “it is the municipality’s view that all properties within the PVP Zone could potentially be impacted by PHAI plans and activities, including the effects of negative image related to the project.”

“The Environmental Assessment (EA) conducted for the PHAI also recognized the potential for generalized effect noting that, ‘… should an adverse effect occur, it would most likely happen immediately prior to and throughout the construction and development phase as the local markets adjust to the implementation of the Port Hope Project. During this time, residents who decide to move can expect their properties will stay on the market longer.’ The EA also identified a number of positive effects to potentially be realized at the conclusion of the Port Hope Project including ‘enhanced potential for increased property values,’” she said.

She added that for the past year the municipality has worked very closely with NRCan and the PHAI-MO to have the criteria for PVP eligibility and final compensation more clearly defined. In December 2011, the PHAI-MO presented to council the preliminary findings from its Real Estate Market Analysis and the final report is expected to be available in February/March of this year. This report will be reviewed by the Municipal Peer Review Team. Once finalized this market analysis will be utilized with other applicable tools to analyze any and all project effects including potential “generalized” effects.

PHAI-MO communications manager Judy Herod said during a phone interview that the PVP program “does not compensate for generalized effects,” however it does compensate for losses suffered through direct effects of the project.

Since the signing of the legal agreement in 2001, Herod said, they have received 71 claims, of which 48 have been processed from start to finish — with 37 of them receiving financial compensation.

Some have been withdrawn while others are waiting to be processed, Herod said.

“Decisions have been made on 54 applications,” Herod said.

“The Port Hope Area Initiative Management Office administers the Property Value Protection Program according to the legal agreement and the policy provided by Natural Resources Canada. The PVP program is a unique, one-of-a-kind program that compensates for loss on sale due to potential nuisance effects, such as noise, dust and traffic arising from direct plans and activities of the clean-up project.

“Natural Resources Canada will engage an independent contractor to conduct an assessment of the PVP Program, which will include a review of the definition of ‘project effect’ and the appeals process,” said Mark Giles of the PHAI-MO in an e-mail.

“The municipality will continue to hold both NRCan and the PHAI-MO accountable to the legal agreement so that Port Hope property owners will not suffer financial losses realized on the sale, rental or re-mortgaging of their property as a result of general or site-specific effects of the PHAI,” Thompson said.