Expropriation is the taking of land without the consent of an owner by an expropriating authority. In Ontario, numerous public bodies, including the provincial government and municipalities, have the power to expropriate land.
Expropriation involves high stakes for all the parties in the process including the expropriating authorities, land owners, business owners, and tenants. Successfully navigating the expropriation process, minimizing risk, and obtaining a fair result requires skillful legal guidance from expropriation lawyers who are knowledgeable about the process, and who have seen all sides of it.
As the oldest independent law firm in Waterloo, Duncan, Linton LLP has been assisting clients with expropriation issues for over 160 years. We have represented both expropriating authorities as well as expropriated landowners in the expropriation process. We have significant experience litigating the issues that are inherent in expropriation and have guided many clients through the process. We draw on the knowledge of our Municipal and Planning Group to provide exceptional, strategic guidance with even the most challenging legal issues.
Expropriations in Ontario
Before any expropriation actually takes place, the expropriating authority will usually attempt a settlement with the landowner. A settlement can amount to an outright purchase of the lands by the expropriating authority, or an agreement that provides for lands to be conveyed to the expropriating authority on the making of a preliminary payment, with the full amount of compensation payable to the landowner to be determined by the Ontario Land Tribunal. If no settlement is reached, the expropriation process begins.
In Ontario, the process is governed by the Expropriations Act (the Act). Under the Act, once a decision to expropriate is made, the expropriating authority must seek approval from the appropriate approving authority to begin the process. Notice is given to each registered land owner and published in the newspaper. All owners have approximately 30 days to request an inquiry as to whether the expropriation is “fair, sound and reasonably necessary”.
Where an inquiry is requested, a hearing officer is appointed and an inquiry is held before an Inquiry Officer. Upon completion of the hearing, the Inquiry Officer issues a report, which is then considered by the approving authority, who makes a final decision about the expropriation. Even where an Inquiry Officer makes a recommendation against an expropriation, the approving authority can still decide to approve it, so long as they have considered the Inquiry Officer’s final report.
Where lands are taken by expropriation, the expropriating authority must serve an offer on the landowner in full compensation for the Owner’s interest in the lands and pay 100% of the market value of the lands, as estimated by the authority’s appraiser, before it can take possession of the lands. The landowner can take this money, but has the right to have the Ontario Land Tribunal determine if it is entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the expropriating authority.
An expropriated landowner is entitled to compensation for:
- The full market value of the expropriated lands;
- Damages attributable to disturbance (including moving costs, business losses and construction damage);
- Damages for injurious affection (in particular, where only part of an owner’s land is taken, any damages to or loss in value of the remaining portion of the owner’s lands);
- Any special difficulties in relocation.
An expropriated landowner is also generally entitled to have the expropriating authority pay the reasonable legal, appraisal and other costs that it incurs in having the Ontario Land Tribunal determine compensation.
The process of determining the appropriate amount of compensation is complex and requires a high level of coordination with professionals such as appraisers, land use planners, engineers and business valuators.
For Trusted Legal Counsel with Respect to Expropriation, Contact Duncan, Linton LLP in Waterloo
Contact the expropriation lawyers at Duncan, Linton LLP for clear, strategic legal advice about expropriation. We have been representing clients in the Waterloo Region for over 150 years and have significant experience advising on, litigating, and solving all manner of disputes that arise throughout the expropriation process. Call us at (519) 886-3340 or contact us online for a consultation.