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Initial Steps in the Expropriation Process

Pre-Expropriation Procedures

Prior to commencing the expropriation process, the authorities may approach the owner directly in an attempt to negotiate a settlement without initiating potentially time-consuming expropriation proceedings. In which case, the authorities will approach the property owner with an appraisal report in an attempt to negotiate a settlement. If the property owner and authorities cannot reach an amicable resolution, the next step is for the expropriating authority to publish a notice of application for approval to expropriate lands.

Notice of Application for Approval to Expropriate Lands

Upon commencing an application for approval to expropriate lands to an approving authority (i.e., local municipal council), the town or region must publish the Notice of Application for Approval to Expropriate Lands in a public domain (i.e., a newspaper with general circulation in the relevant region where the expropriation will be undertaken).

Any owner which is given notice of the expropriation has the right to request a Hearing of Necessity with an inquiry officer to conduct an assessment into whether the expropriation is fair and necessary in light of the objectives of the public work.  The request for a Hearing of Necessity must be made to the authorities directly in writing within 30 days of receipt of the notice of approval to expropriate lands.

If no Hearing of Necessity is requested, the local approving authority will determine if the expropriation can proceed.  If approval fo the application is granted by the “approving authority” (as defined by the Expropriations Act), the authorities have 90 days to register a Plan of Expropriation on the title to the lands it requires. Once the Plan of Expropriation is registered on title, ownership vests in the authorities (although possession of the lands will often remain with the property owner).  There are a number of technical additional steps that occur following the registration of the expropriation plan, which steps are governed by the provisions of the Expropriations Act in Ontario.

Given the breadth of infrastructure upgrading and improvements across the Province of Ontario, various regions are initiating the expropriation process; as such, we have provided examples of the published notices of approval to expropriate lands from various authorities, as listed below:

Region of Waterloo

Town of Oakville

Town of Collingwood

City of Kingston

Dealing with a Pending Expropriation

If you are a property or business owner that has been served a notice of application for approval to expropriate lands, an experience expropriation lawyer will help you navigate the technical complexities and timelines as prescribed by the Expropriations Act.  For more information on expropriations, visit our main page here or give us a call at 647-838-6740.

Easement Expropriations – Compensation

As we have mentioned here and here, the act of expropriation is a powerful mechanism available to public authorities to involuntarily purchase a property owners land. In many cases, the authorities will not require the entire building or land in order to carry out its public purpose. Rather, the majority of expropriations are partial expropriations, whereby the authorities seek to purchase a portion of land that resides in a property owners parcel.  The taking of easements is very common practice among expropriating authorities and it is imperative that property owners are sensitive to the amount of compensation that is being offered in exchange for the easement.

What is an Easement?

An easement is a right granted to a party to use a property owners land for a specific purpose. In the context of expropriation law, easements may be temporary or permanent. For instance, we have represented property and business owners in the York Region who have been served with Notices of Expropriation for both temporary limited interests (i.e., temporary easements) and permanent easements related to the York Region Viva Rapid Transit Corridor on Yonge Street from Sawmill Drive to Davis Drive in Newmarket.

The temporary limited easements typically related to authorities need to use various land that abuts the main roadway for construction purposes. Entries to parking lots and other laneways are often required by the contractors to store heavy construction equipment or as access points to enter and exit construction staging zones. Property owners have the obligation to accommodate the construction activities subject to their right to obtain compensation for the same.  Often, the easement agreements will be entered into for a period of time (i.e., one or two years); and, in exchange for the compensation obtained, the expropriating authority will be released from any claims for the indicated period.

In the event the construction is not finished within the estimated timeline, a common occurrence in the context of public construction works, the property owner will have the opportunity to negotiate further compensation. It is critical that the expropriated property owner negotiates an agreement for compensation that preserves their rights to additional compensation should the construction continue to interfere with their business beyond a projected date.  To this end, it is advisable to contact an expropriation lawyer to discuss the provisions around offers of compensation and negotiating expropriation-related agreements.

Goldstein Law Firm focuses on expropriation law and has experience with expropriation files related to various public construction projects, including but not limited to:

-Eglinton Crosstown LRT;
-York Region Viva Next Rapid Transit;
-Town of Oakville, Road Widening Projects;
-Finch West LRT Expansion.

Contact our expropriation law firm today for a free consultation!