As we have discussed here and here, an expropriation or taking of land typically occurs when a municipality, town, or other government agency requires land for the purposes of public works (i.e., infrastructure project). The project could be large in scope, including new subways or light rail transit lines (for examples, see the Eglinton Crosstown, Hurontario LRT, and Hamilton LRT) where the authorities in each region have been undertaking expropriations to accommodate the mass transit projects. Conversely, small projects such as road widening and improvements can require the authorities to purchase small tracts of land from various property owners to accommodate the widening road.
Reasons for road widening typically include adding public transit along the route to reduce congestion or to add bike lanes. When the road is widening, the property abutting the new, expanded roadway, must be purchased by the authorities in order to carry out the work. The private property owners do not have a choice as to whether their property is purchased or not – this is referred to as expropriation – the purchase of private property without consent.
Authorities will typically commence the expropriation process prior to starting the public works, to ensure that lands are acquired in time to meet project timelines and for the authorities to receive clear title to lands. In order to start the expropriations process, the authority will serve an Application for Approval to Expropriate Land (form 2), typically with a reference plan or survey which shows the lands required for the expropriation.
If you have received a Notice of Expropriation from the authorities as a result of a road widening or otherwise, you have the right to consult with legal counsel at no cost of your own. In fact, the underlying principle of expropriations is that the property owner should be “made whole.” Accordingly, property owners are not required to pay legal fees as the authorities are required to reimburse reasonable professional fees under the Expropriations Act.
If you have a question about expropriation in Ontario, contact our law firm today for a consultation.