Make way for the Ontario Line, the 15.6-kilometer, 15-stop subway line that will start at Exhibition Place, zip through the downtown core and shoot north through Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park up to the Science Centre at Eglinton.
The estimated $10.9 billion project was brought to the public’s attention by the Ontario government in 2019, with a proposed completion date of 2030. On March 27, 2022, the project finally broke ground as the largest subway expansion in Canadian history.
Metrolinx promises to improve commuters’ quality of life by reducing daily travel time with the Ontario Line – a faster, more frequent and reliable access to rapid transit. At the same time they are wreaking havoc on many Toronto neighborhoods, displacing homes, businesses, and everything else in its path.
Who is Metrolinx?
Metrolinx is a Crown agency of the Government of Ontario that was created in 2006 to improve the coordination and integration of all modes of transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). In 2009 Metrolinx merged with GO Transit, and took over projects including the Presto Card, a smart card touch payment system for public transit, and construction on the Union Pearson Express.
The Metrolinx Act, 2006 defines the Crown agency’s role as follows:
“To provide leadership in the co-ordination, planning, financing, development and implementation of an integrated, multi-modal transportation network that … supports a high quality of life, a sustainable environment and a strong, prosperous and competitive economy.”
Projects currently being carried out by Metrolinx include the expansion of GO Train infrastructure, the construction of LRT lines across the GTHA, the City of Toronto’s Downtown Relief Line and the Ontario Line.
Each of the above-noted Metrolinx projects will necessitate the expropriation of privately-owned land. Impacted owners are entitled to compensation for impacts relating to these compulsory takings. Compensation can include payment for the market value of the land interest, as well as negative impacts or “injurious affection” to the remainder lands (if any), and business losses.
Under the Expropriations Act, 1990, an expropriating authority is any entity empowered by a statute to expropriate an interest in land. In the expropriations’ context, Metrolinx is an expropriating authority. It is empowered by legislation to take land without an owner’s consent to facilitate the construction of transportation infrastructure.
Owners of property along the Ontario Line project who may be impacted by the construction have received letters from Metrolinx, known as a “Notice of Application for Approval to Expropriate” (“Notice”). These notices advise that their lands will be needed to accommodate the construction of the Ontario Line and invites property owners to contact Metrolinx for a meeting to discuss next steps. The Notice will also be published in a local newspaper for three consecutive weeks. This notice is the first step Metrolinx takes to obtain approval to expropriate land under the Expropriations Act.
If you have received a letter of Notice, property owners usually have legal options to oppose the taking. One of these options is to request a Hearing of Necessity, where an Inquiry Officer hears evidence and determines whether the proposed expropriation is “fair, sound and reasonably necessary.” However, on July 8, 2020, Bill 171, Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 came into force as law for the purpose to expedite the planning, design and construction process of four priority transit projects:
- Ontario Line
- Scarborough Subway Extension
- Yonge North Subway Extension
- Eglinton Crosstown West Extension
Building Transit Faster Act, 2020
The Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 expedites the delivery of the four priority transit projects by implementing transit corridor control, eliminating a procedural step in the expropriation process, and introducing processes for the relocation of utilities and for access to municipal service and right of way.
The New Alternative Engagement Process
Under the previous process, property owners had the right to request a Hearing of Necessity to determine the fairness of the expropriation. The Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 eliminates hearings of necessity for expropriations of property on transit corridor land, if the expropriations are for the purpose of a priority transit project.
Under the New Alternative Engagement Process, as an alternative to the hearings, the Minister may establish a process for receiving and considering comments from property owners about a proposed expropriation.
The Ontario Line Stations
The neighborhoods that will be greatly impacted by the construction of the Ontario Line:
- The Science Centre station integrated with the Don Mills Road and Eglinton station in Flemingdon Park
- The Flemingdon Park station on the west side of Don Mills Road, north of Gateway Boulevard in Flemingdon Park
- The Thorncliffe Park station on Overlea Boulevard over Thorncliffe Park Drive West in Thorncliffe Park
- The Cosburn station at Cosburn Avenue and Pape Avenue in Old East York
- The Pape station integrated with the existing Pape and Danforth station in Greektown
- The Gerrard station located at the intersection of Gerrard Street and Carlaw Avenue in Riverdale
- The Riverside-Leslieville station located at the intersection of Queen Street East and GO Transit’s Lakeshore East / Stouffville rail corridor in Leslieville South Riverdale
- The East Harbour station located along GO Transit’s Lakeshore East / Stouffville rail corridor between Eastern Avenue and the Don river in Leslieville South Riverdale
- The Corktown station at Berkeley Street and King Street East in Corktown
- The Moss Park station under Queen Street East between George Street and Sherbourne Street in Regent Park / Moss Park
- The Queen station integrated with the existing Queen Street West and Yonge station downtown
- The Osgoode station integrated with the existing Queen Street West and University Avenue station downtown
- The Queen-Spadina station at the intersection of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue in the Fashion District
- The King-Bathurst station at the intersection of King Street West and Bathurst Street in the Fashion District
- The Exhibition station on the north side of the Lakeshore West railway corridor, north of Exhibition Place in Liberty Village
If you may be impacted by the priority transit projects and the Building Transit Faster Act, 2020, please do not hesitate to contact us.