Whatever Happened To...Antrim Truck Ltd. and Public Nuisances - LawNow Magazine

Whatever Happened To…Antrim Truck Ltd. and Public Nuisances

Famous Case RevisitedBackground

Gail Cameron was brought up in the restaurant and accounting businesses.  Her husband Jack had a strong trucking background.  In June 1978, the couple had acquired Cedar Service Centre on 12 acres of land located on the former Highway 17 west of Ottawa from Gail’s mother.  They built a tire shop in 1980 and carried on business for motorists passing by. What became Antrim Truck was a great location with good access from the former Trans-Canada highway.

In 1986, the Camerons purchased 10,000 square feet of land, where they built a 10-bay workshop, a restaurant and truck fuel islands.  The business, which by now included a Kenworth truck franchise in Pembroke, flourished.  A gift shop, gas bar, offices, truck sales and more were added over the years.  They won awards for cleanest washrooms and service.  By 2003,  with 100 employees, they were generating annual gross revenues of over $15 million.

But Antrim Truck faced one big problem. When they purchased the property in 1978, the Ontario transportation minister warned the Camerons that a new highway would be constructed near Highway 17 in the future.

Facts

In 2004, Ontario opened a new section of Highway 417 which ran parallel to Highway 17. As the Camerons feared, motorists did not have direct access to their truck stop anymore.

The transportation ministry offered signage on the new Highway 417 to facilitate the exit to Antrim, but the Camerons never replied.  By mid-January of 2005, the Antrim Truck business was closed.  It was no longer viable due to the new alignment of Highway 417, the bypass of the property and the inadequate access offered.

Lawsuit

Antrim Truck Ltd. claimed $8,224,671 in damages for injurious affection (based on the tort of nuisance) under the Expropriations Act, RSO 1990, c E.26.  Under expropriations legislation, compensation must be awarded for the nuisance tort of injurious affection where the claimant’s occupation or enjoyment of land is substantially and unreasonably interfered with. This was the cost of Antrim’s relocation and the construction of new premises.

In 2013, a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada delivered judgment on Antrim Truck Centre Ltd. v. Ontario [2013] 1 SCR 594 in which the Camerons were awarded $393,000 as compensation for their loss of business and market value in the land.  Although the damages were significantly reduced, Antrim did win the final appeal and Ontario was ordered to pay Antrim’s court costs.

Injurious Affection

The common law of injurious affection has developed over the years and the concepts of right of access, injurious affection, and nuisance are used interchangeably. Compensation will not be awarded for trivial annoyances.  Under expropriations legislation, compensation must be awarded for the nuisance tort of injurious affection where the claimant’s occupation or enjoyment of land is substantially and unreasonably interfered with.  The plaintiff must prove the damage results from action taken under a statutory authority and from the construction and not the use of the works.

Highway 417 was obviously constructed by an Ontario statutory authority.  The issue was the construction of the road and not the use of it such as noise and dust disturbance. The question remained whether the interference was both substantial and unreasonable.

Substantiality

Compensation will not be awarded for trivial annoyances.  In St. Lawrence Cement Inc. v. Barrette,[2008] 3 SCR 392, the noises and gases emanating from the daily operations of a cement factory excessively and abnormally annoyed the neighbourhood.  Noise and dust from a construction site are necessary to carry out construction work, and nearby residents must put up with these non-trivial annoyances.  However, the construction of the new road substantially affected access to Antrim’s truck stop and interfered with business operations.

Reasonableness

How severe was the damage, judged by the interference, the character of the neighbourhood, and the sensitivity of Antrim’s business?  Quebec’s construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway put Loiselle’s garage and service station at a dead end highway.  The Supreme Court of Canada in 1962 compensated him for the loss of property value. (The Queen v. Loiselle, [1962] SCR 624) In Newfoundland (Minister of Works, Services and Transportation) v. Airport Realty Ltd., 2001 NFCA 45 (CanLII) the province had built a new roadway to the St. John’s Airport which diverted traffic away from Airport Plaza Hotel.  The Court of Appeal in 2001 compensated the hotel owner with $300,000.

On the other hand, in Mandrake v. Toronto Transit Commission, a nuisance claim that subway lines reduced the claimant’s enjoyment of its land failed in 1993.  Essential public services will carry substantial weight.  In determining reasonableness, the interference should be greater than the individual would be expected to bear in the public interest without compensation.  Antrim Truck, when purchasing the land, was warned about possible future construction of Highway 417.  The new highway conferred significant use in the public interest and outweighed Antrim’s interests.

Antrim Truck Today

In 1986 the Camerons acquired two pieces of land.  One was used to expand their former location.  The other was left undeveloped.  When they closed down the Highway 17 location in late 2004, they relocated Antrim Truck to the second , which is only 15 kilometers west of the former site and consists of 30 acres of land.  Antrim Truck still operates there today.  The Highway 17 property was sold and is now the Antrim Flea Market site.

Gail and Jack Cameron continue to be enthusiastic about their family business, one that they cultivated over 30 years.  Their slogan is: “Always known as Antrim Truck Stop!”  They are relieved the legal ordeal is finally over.

 

Authors:

Peter Bowal
Peter Bowal
Peter Bowal is a Professor of Law at the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta.
 

Pedro Porto Alegre
Pedro Porto Alegre has earned his B.Comm. from the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary. (2014)
 


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