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Registered Property Owners in Expropriations

Municipalities in Ontario are engaging in the expropriation process to involuntarily purchase private property for various infrastructure works.  For example, in the City of Toronto, the authorities have acquired an interest in private property in order to accommodate the upgrading and enhanced of Donlands Subway Station.  See a copy of the summary of the project and of the expropriated property interests here.  This project is an important insofar as it enhances accessibility requirements at this subway station and complies with the legislative changes as implemented by the Accessibility for Ontarian’s with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).

The City of Toronto posts a partial list of expropriated properties here.  In addition, prior to expropriation, the authorities are required to publish a notice of the application of intention to expropriate land once a week for three weeks in a local newspaper where the lands are situated (section 6(1) of the Expropriations Act).  In addition, the notice of the application of intention to expropriate is served on the registered owner(s) of the property.

Registered Owner is defined by the Expropriations Act as follows:

An owner of land whose interest in the land is defined and whose name is specified in an instrument in the proper land registry or sheriff’s office, and includes a person shown as a tenant of land on the last revised assessment roll; (“propriétaire enregistré”)

The above-referenced definition of the registered owner is rather broad and encompasses anyone with an interest in the property.  Tenants in common, individuals with small and limited ownership interests, mortgagees, other security-interest holders, lien-holders, those with spousal interests, and otherwise, are all entitled to notice of the expropriation and to have their rights preserved and protected in the expropriation process.  Authorities will generally require a Full and Final Release from all registered owners of the property in order to effectuate a payout on account of expropriation. As such, it can often require extensive time and coordination amongst the registered owners of the property if their interests are not all aligned.

Authorities typically prefer an amicable resolution with property owners related to expropriation claims, especially with respect to smaller, partial takings and temporary easement. However, given construction timelines and public budgets, authorities typically commence the expropriation process in parallel with attempts at an amicable resolution.  If a negotiated settlement with the expropriated property owner is not attainable, the more formal timelines and procedures of the Expropriations Act will be employed by the authorities in order to take possession of the lands and commence construction works.

 

Expropriation in Ontario

As we have discussed in our expropriation law blog posts, we represent property owners and business owners in claims against government authorities when land is involuntarily purchased for a public purpose. The Municipal Act 2001 S.O. 2001, c. 25, in Ontario, provides that the power of a Municipality to acquire land under the Municipal Act, or any other Act, includes the power to expropriate land in accordance with the Expropriations Act.

In order to authorize an expropriation of land, the municipality must obtain the consent of the governing council to carry out the property acquisition. Once approval is obtained from municipal council to proceed with the purchase of land, a Notice of Application for Approval to Expropriate Land is delivered to the property owner, following which a series of steps is taken by the authorities, typically including but not limited to as follows:

a) a Plan of Expropriation be obtained and registered on title to the Lands;

b) the Notice of Expropriation, Notice of Possession and Notice of Election be served upon the owners of the Lands;

c) an appraisal report for expropriation purposes be obtained to establish the market value of the Lands;

d) the owners of the Lands be served with an offer in accordance with Section 25 of the Expropriations Act;

e) payment of compensation offered pursuant to Section 25 of the Expropriations Act, be made upon acceptance by the owners of the Lands;

f) all necessary steps required to be taken to obtain possession of the expropriated Lands.

If the property owner does not accept the section 25 offer of compensation in full and final satisfaction of their rights in the property, the owner may commence further legal action, engage their own property appraiser, and proceed with negotiation at the Board of Negotiation or an arbitration process through the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) for a determination of the proceeds of expropriation.

Expropriations Update in Ontario

As we have discussed here and has been discussed here and here the municipal governments across Ontario are undertaking various infrastructure projects that require the expropriation of land from private property owners.  As Goldstein Law Firm, we specialize in expropriation law, having helped property and business owners in various projects across Ontario, including but not limited to the following:

Eglinton Crosstown
Hurontario LRT
Hamilton LRT
Speers Road Widening
Trafalgar Road Widening
Yonge Street Road Widening

If you are a property owner being impacted by any of the above-referenced construction projects or any other project across Ontario and you have received a Notice of Application for Approval to Expropriate Land, it is best to consult with an experienced expropriation lawyer to advise you of your rights.  We do not charge any up-front fees in expropriation matter, and authorities are required to reimburse all reasonable legal and professional fees incurred by the property owner through the course of the expropriation.

As such, there is absolutely no cost to you for contacting and consulting with an expropriation lawyer.  Call Goldstein Law at 647.838.6740 today!

Hamilton LRT Expropriations

Expropriation is the government taking of land. In preparation for constructing the Hamilton LRT, the government is purchasing property from private owners. A large quantity of land is being acquired by the government to accommodate the LRT project in Hamilton.

The City of Hamilton and Metrolinx are acquiring property in collaboration as required for the Hamilton LRT.  Metrolinx is responsible for all costs of acquiring the properties, including any injurious affection claims under the Expropriations Act.  The City acquires real property (i.e., fee simple interests, leaseholds, easements whether temporary or permanent, depending on the case) for the Project on behalf of Metrolinx.

For each property, the City obtains an appraisal or opinion of value to identify the market value of the property. Also, a survey is required.  Ultimately, the property owner and authorities will enter into an Agreement of Purchase and Sale for payment to the Owner of the following:

-Legal and appraisal costs incurred by the property owner;

-Penalties for prepayment and/or partial discharges of any mortgage or charge registered against the property;

-Relocation and/or equivalent reinstatement costs of the property owner;

-Disturbance damages, including business loss;

-Land transfer and other applicable taxes;

-Any other compensation as required by the Expropriations Act.

If you are a property owner subject to expropriation as a result of the Hamilton LRT project, please contact Goldstein Law for a free consultation today!

Viva Rapid Transit Corridor – Expropriations

The Town of Richmond Hill has obtained approval from local council to serve offers of compensation under section 25 of the Expropriations Act in Ontario to owners of lands who are being expropriated on Yonge Street for the vivaNEst bus rapid transit corridor.

York Region Rapid Transit Corporation (YRRTC) is undertaking improvements to facilitate public transit along Yonge Street by constructing dedicates lanes for Viva buses, along with enhanced boulevards. Starting in January 2015, local council approved the expropriation of properties, including permanent and temporary expropriations of fee simple interests and temporary easements for four-year periods, which are set to expire in March 2019. Given that construction is ongoing at this time, the Region needs to extend the temporary easements beyond March 2019. The new temporary easements that are being negotiated with property owners are to extend to April 2021.

The authorities will offer the property owner one of two options in accordance with the Expropriations Act:
(1) Full compensation for the market value of the expropriated land and damages for injurious affection, which accepted, will be in full satisfaction of any claims by the owner; and
(2) Payment for the market value of expropriated lands but not included an offer to pay any other damages. If the owner accepts this offer, they may reserve the right to bring claims in the future for additional compensation in accordance with the Expropriations Act.

It is generally in the property owners best interest to accept the second offer, and then endeavour to negotiate a full and final settlement thereafter. If you are a property owner or tenant that has been served with an offer of compensation under the Expropriations Act in Ontario, feel free to contact an expropriation lawyer at Goldstein Law Firm today.

Offers of Compensation – Approving Expropriations

An expropriating authority is required to obtain the approval of the local council or “approving authority” in order to carry out an expropriation. An example of such approval is contained here

In the link, attached, permission is sought from the City of Toronto to expropriate and acquire temporary construction easements to facilitate the construction of the Toronto Spadina Subway Extension Project. As we have discussed here, temporary easements are strips of land contained in a property owners parcel, which is required by the authorities for an indicated period of time to carry out construction work. The authorities do not seek to acquire permanent interests in such property; as when the construction work is completed, access will no longer be required to such land, and full ownership reverts back to the property owner, with no easement or otherwise attached thereto.

The expropriating authority will always require that the property owner signs a Full and Final Release in exchange for the payment of compensation for the expropriation. It is imperative that the property owner carefully reviews the terms of the Release to ensure that future claims are not barred should they arise. For instance, in the above-referenced case related to a temporary construction easement, if the works take longer than initially anticipated, the authorities may need to extend the duration of the easement, which will result in additional compensation for the property owner. However, if the Release is drafted in a way that precludes the property owner from obtaining additional compensation for an easement extension, then substantial funds could be lost.

Accordingly, and given that expropriating authorities are required to reimburse reasonable legal and professional fees under the Expropriations Act, it is advisable to consult with an expropriation lawyer before signing any agreement for compensation.

What is Expropriation?

Government authorities such as municipalities, school boards, and provincial and federal governments undertake projects which require them to obtain land from private property owners. In many cases, the authorities only require a small portion of the private property owners’ land for an easement or for related purposes such as utilities, although, in certain instances, entire properties are required (i.e., full vs. partial expropriation).

The authorities will attempt to purchase the land required from a project through a negotiated process with the affected property owners. The first step in the negotiation process is a hearing with the Board of Negotiation at the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (formerly Ontario Municipal Board). Absent successful negotiations, the authorities may use the expropriation process to ensure that the land is obtained in a specific timeline to suit their project needs. Simply, an expropriation is a transfer of lands or an easement to an authority for reasonable compensation, including payment for the fair market value of the transferred lands, without the property owners consent.

In Ontario, an expropriation by an authority must follow the process set out in the Ontario Expropriations Act to ensure that the rights of the property owners are protected.

Sometimes, authorities will seek a negotiated resolution while the expropriation process is underway. This approach is necessary to ensure that the lands are in the authorities possession in the necessary timeframe; however, it can also save costs of both sides. Expropriation proceedings can be discontinued and the land transferred to the authorities in exchange for the payment of the negotiated compensation.

If your land has been expropriated or the authorities require an easement on your property to accommodate a public work, call the expropriation lawyer at Goldstein Law Firm to ensure you maximize the compensation that you deserve in conjunction with an expropriation in Ontario.