Expropriation Law

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Expropriation Law in Ontario

Expropriation Lawyers Representing Property & Business Owners Across Ontario

What is Expropriation Law?

The Expropriations Act in Ontario governs occurrences where a registered interest in land is taken by a statutory authority in accordance with approval from its local municipal council or other approving authority. Upon applying for approval to expropriate land, an expropriating authority shall serve a notice of application for approval to expropriate upon each registered owner of the lands to be expropriated and the notice shall be published in a newspaper having general circulation in the locality where the lands are situated.

Property owners, tenants, and businesses are considered “owners” under the Expropriations Act in Ontario; and accordingly, we assist them in obtaining fair compensation for lands or businesses they are losing as a result of expropriation.

There are very few specialized legal experts in the area of expropriation law in Ontario, and it is imperative that you retained specialized counsel to assist you, as there are many unique aspects of expropriation law, including timing and notice requirements, the types of compensation you are entitled to, and the arbitration process at the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal.

In addition to our expertise in expropriated properties, our Toronto Expropriation lawyers work with a group of specialists (i.e., land appraisers, and business loss valuators) that have expertise in the area of expropriation.

Why is Land Typically Expropriated?

The power to expropriate land is held by public agencies, including municipalities or local boards, elected school boards, universities or other educational institutions, hospitals, ministry or agencies of the Ontario government in respect of infrastructure projects, the Ontario Energy Board, and the Attorney General of Ontario.  In general, an expropriation takes place to permit the construction of infrastructure, most predominantly transit projects, or road widening for improved vehicular access, bike lanes, new bus lanes, and utility relocations. Where an expropriation occurs, each landowner, and other registered owners, as defined by the Expropriations Act, are entitled to compensation in accordance with the parameters set out in the legislation and the common law in Ontario, which consists of a body of case law that interprets and enlightens the legislation.

Who Is Our Typical Client in Expropriation Law Matters?

The following entities may be considered registered owners under the Expropriations Act, and accordingly, are entitled to fair compensation resulting from an expropriation:

  • Commercial property owners
  • Residential property owners
  • Commercial tenants (i.e., business owners); and
  • Residential tenants.

On our homepage, you will see a list of projects that our law firm has been retained to represent the expropriated owners in, ranging from:

  • Land acquisitions of fee simple interests;
  • Expropriations involving a taking of a portion of a lot resulting in fair market value entitlements along with injurious affection damages;
  • Temporary and permanent easement takings, with disturbance damage components;
  • Injurious affection with no land taken actions in accordance with s.22 of the Expropriations Act.

The above cases have involved a mixture of representing landowners who have been impacted by the expropriation of their private real property rights and business owners whose businesses have been forced to close down as a result of expropriation in the most extreme sense, and those that have been substantially and unreasonably interfered with by public construction works, without an actual taking of land.

Our Toronto Expropriation Lawyers are experts in expropriated property and land disputes.

Expropriation involves the public taking of land without the private owner’s consent. It is also referred to as an eminent domain. It is an extreme exercise of a government authority. As a property owner, you may first become aware of a pending expropriation when you receive a Notice of Application of Intention to Expropriate Land from your local municipality or transit authority. This Notice sets out the nature of the project and the land to be taken. Within 3 months of approval to expropriation being granted by the authorities, a Plan to expropriate the land is registered, at which time the authorities take legal ownership.

Sometime thereafter the expropriating authorities will take possession of the property. Various interim steps are taken by the authorities between the date of plan registration and the date of possession under the Expropriations Act.  It is imperative to contact experienced legal counsel at this early stage to ensure your rights are preserved with respect to the process.

The Government involuntarily expropriated your land?

Land and business owners are entitled to various forms of compensation resulting from the expropriation of land.  Few Expropriation lawyers have extensive knowledge of the Expropriation Act.  Contact our law Firm today for more information about our services.


Property Expropriation can involve permanent purchases of fee simple interests in land (full taking or partial taking of land). In other words, the expropriating authority will involuntarily purchase your property, and you, as property or business owner, are obliged to accept this decision. Recent changes in 2020 in Ontario to the Building Transit Faster Act, has expedited the process, allowing the government authority to bypass the ‘hearing of necessity’ process, which previously allowed property owners to challenge the reasonableness of the expropriation.

A business owner or landowner that is expropriated is entitled to various forms of compensation, including:

  • Fair market value of their property;
  • Disturbance damages, or any losses that are a natural or reasonable consequence of the expropriation;
  • Business losses and relocation expenses;
  • Injurious affection damages;
  • The reimbursement or reasonable legal and professional fees.

Market Value of Expropriated Land

Market Value of Expropriated Land
The market value of land expropriated by authorities is based on the “highest and best use” of
the lands. This means the highest economic use to which a buyer and seller, each willing and
knowledgeable, would reasonably anticipate the lands to be put. Where a rezoning is required
to achieve the highest and best use of the property, it is not enough that the rezoning has “good
potential,” it must rather be “reasonably probable.”
Where land is expropriated from an owner who would not be expected to develop the land for its
highest and best use, the Board may base its valuation on what a developer might pay for the
land at the time of expropriation. As such, the conduct of an economically rational developer is
the measure of market value. The possibility of redevelopment does not determine the highest
and best use of a property, especially when an owner has not taken any steps to achieve that
redevelopment and market conditions would not support a redevelopment. In determining the
highest and best use, the Board must consider land use regulations, compatibility with
surrounding uses, development potential opportunities, existing use and market conditions of
supply and demand.

What is a Plan of Expropriation?

When an expropriation is approved by an “approving authority” (as defined by the Expropriations Act in Ontario), the municipal authority will register a plan of expropriation on the title to the expropriated lands.

Once the plan has been registered, title, or ownership of that portion of the expropriated land “vests” in the expropriating authority (but this does not give the expropriating authority the right of possession).

After the plan has been registered on title, the expropriating authority will serve all registered owners with: (i) a Notice of Expropriation, which provides notice that the lands have been expropriated; (ii) a Notice of Possession, indicating the date on which the expropriating authority requires possession of the lands; and (iii) a Notice of Election, which permits the owner to select one of three dates upon which compensation for the lands will be based.

After service of the notice, officials may enter on the expropriated lands (with the owner’s consent, or upon an order issued by the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal) in order to view the lands for the purpose of preparing an appraisal report, which is intended to support of Offer of Compensation for the expropriated lands in accordance with Section 25 of the Expropriations Act.

Once an appraisal report has been prepared, the official authority will provide a copy of the report to each registered owner, along with an offer of compensation for the owner’s interest in the lands expropriated. Owners then have two options: (1) accept the offer in full settlement of all claims under the Expropriations Act; or (2) accept the offer while preserving the right to claim additional compensation from the municipality. Where the second option is selected, owners can assert their claim for additional compensation through formal or informal negotiation, or through arbitration at the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (formerly the Ontario Municipal Board). Often, negotiation and arbitration proceedings are pursued simultaneously.

Please note that the above-referenced procedures are only applicable to expropriations in Ontario – and expropriation legislation and the associated processes vary from province to province.

Contact us at Goldstein Law Firm in Toronto for all your Expropriation legal Matters

Goldstein Law Firm, Expropriation Lawyers in Toronto | Representing Owners of Expropriated Properties Across The greater Toronto Area. Our lawyers have extensive experience navigating the Expropriations Act in Ontario for property owners and business owners that are subject to expropriation disputes.  Expropriation law is a specialized practice area and it is important that you hire a specialist in expropriations law to protect your rights. Call us today at 647-838-6740 or use our contact form for a free consultation. For additional frequently asked questions go to our FAQ page.

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