Owners Facing Expropriation
Owners are shocked to discover that their property can be taken from them without their consent. An expropriation can be devastating, particularly if you are losing your home or your business in the process. At Thomson Rogers, we are committed to protecting our clients’ interests and resolving their issues in a timely manner. We take the time to understand our clients’ needs and circumstances in order to optimize their legal rights and achieve the maximum compensation for their losses.
Expropriation is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “the action of the state in taking or modifying the property rights of an individual in the exercise of its sovereignty.”
If your property has been expropriated, or you have received notice that an application has been made to expropriate your property, some very important steps need to be taken in order for you to be able to receive full and fair compensation for losses resulting from the taking of your property. A good place to start is the Ontario Expropriations Act. Most of expropriations in Ontario are conducted under this Act. You should browse through this Act to familiarize yourself with the terminology, expropriation process, and most importantly, your rights.
Our lawyers are here to help you understand your legal rights and navigate through the complex expropriation process. Acting on behalf of landowners and business owners, we provide our clients with first-rate services in the following areas:
- Challenging the expropriation authority’s decision to expropriate.
- Negotiating the voluntary sale of the client’s property to an expropriating authority for compensation that is fulsome and fair.
- Making a claim against the expropriating authority for compensation for losses resulting from the partial or full taking of a client’s land.
- Making a claim for damages sustained by an owner as a result of a nearby expropriation or construction project undertaken by a expropriation authority, even where the client’s land has not been expropriated.
- Identifying, retaining and working with other experts, such as appraisers and business valuators, whose advice and opinions may be necessary for the proper determination of compensation.
- Working with experts to ensure business continuity with minimum disruption and timely compensation, which includes recovery for the true investment value of the client’s asset.
- Mediations, settlement discussions, and other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms throughout the expropriation process.
- The litigation of an expropriation claim, where necessary.
We consistently produce quality results for our clients. Our planning law background and experience as counsel for expropriating authorities give us a unique advantage that enables us to see greater possibilities for resolving expropriation problems. This often includes finding solutions to non-compensation issues that may arise from a partial taking of land.
Claimant v. Durham (Regional Municipality) (2015) 116 L.C.R. 39
Thomson Rogers acted for the Region of Durham at the Ontario Municipal Board. The Claimant sought disclosure of a variety of records, including the entire file of the Region’s appraiser. Applying the Ontario Court of Appeal’s ruling in Moore v. Getahun, the Board ordered disclosure of only the foundational information relied upon by the Region’s appraiser, and not any draft reports, consultation notes or other documents properly subject to litigation privilege.
Owen Sound (City) v. Claimant (2007) 90 L.C.R. 317
Thomson Rogers acted on behalf of the Claimant on this matter before Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Divisional Court). The Court ruled that viewing the site being expropriated may include environmental testing under section 10(3) of the Expropriations Act after service of the notice of expropriation.
Claimant v. Ontario (Minister of Transportation) (2006) 88 L.C.R. 317
Thomson Rogers acted on behalf of the Claimant on this Ontario Superior Court of Justice matter. Another firm handled the hearing of necessity, and an application was brought for judicial review dealing with the question of whether the inquiry officer dealing with the proposed expropriation had breached the duty of procedural fairness.
Claimant v. Ontario (Management Board of Cabinet), Highway 407 Decisions, Milton (2005) 87 L.C.R. 56
Thomson Rogers acted for the Claimant which owned two separate parcels of land straddling the routing of the 407 Highway southward from the 401 Highway and adjacent to the border between Mississauga and Milton. Owing to the longevity of the Ontario Parkway Belt Plan, the highest and best of the lands was a fundamental issue in these expropriation cases, as was injurious affection, as one of the two takings had split certain lands in half.
Claimants v. City of Toronto, Ataratari (2003) 77 L.C.R. 24
Thomson Rogers acted on behalf of the Claimants in this case, arising out of an expropriation as part of the City of Toronto “Ataratiri” development proposal. Thomson Rogers acted for approximately nine other Claimants in other cases dealing with Toronto’s Ataratiri development proposal.
Region of Niagara Fourth Avenue Roadworks, City of St. Catharines (2001) 74 L.C.R. 1
Thomson Rogers acted on behalf of the Region of Niagara on this series of Court decisions. The Ontario Court of Appeal determined that the Region had the authority to establish a median across Fourth Avenue in St. Catharines, with a resultant effect on the ingress and egress to a commercial plaza. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the only remedy was an expropriation claim for injurious affection under the Expropriations Act with the result that the Region of Niagara could proceed with the necessary roadworks.
City of Toronto Yonge Street Regeneration (1999) 65 L.C.R. 181
Thomson Rogers acted on behalf of a landowner with two holdings at the intersection of Yonge and Dundas Streets in the City of Toronto. The City of Toronto sought to expropriate these lands, together with those of other property owners, for the development of Yonge-Dundas Square, which included the transfer of expropriated lands to a third party developer. The matter went to the Ontario Joint Board with both land use planning appeals and a hearing of necessity being heard by the Board. Thomson Rogers subsequently acted on behalf of the landowner in settling the land valuation and business loss expropriation claims with the City of Toronto.
Claimant v. Halton Region Conservation Authority (1990) 42 L.C.R. 310
This is one of the leading cases regarding the admissibility of market evidence after the expropriation date. The Ontario Municipal Board ruled that after the event sales are not admissible except to show a price trend; events or policy development started prior to expropriation may be followed to their result after expropriation; and the weight to be given to the after the event evidence is for the Ontario Municipal Board to assess.
Know Your Rights
The steps you must take and the rights you have vary depending on what stage of the expropriation process you find yourself in.
If you have just received a Notice of Application for Approval to Expropriate, this means that your property has not yet been expropriated. The notice signifies that the expropriating authority has commenced the expropriation process and is seeking approval to expropriate your property. At this stage, you have a right to contest the expropriation of your property by triggering an inquiry (commonly referred to as a “hearing of necessity”) into whether the expropriation is fair, sound, and reasonably necessary. The expropriation cannot go ahead until the inquiry process is completed.
If you have just received a Notice of Expropriation, this means that you no longer have a property interest in the expropriated land. In this case, it is important that you are aware of the timing of key steps in expropriation proceeding, including the date you will receive mandatory compensation from the expropriating authority for the market value of your property and the date by which you must give up vacant possession of the property. You can calculate the approximate timeline using our Expropriation Planner. Knowing the likely timeline of critical moments in the expropriation proceeding can assist you in planning for your future and maximizing your expropriated property value.
In some cases, an expropriating authority or a negotiator hired by that authority may approach you with an offer to purchase your property. These offers tend to be made before the expropriation is officially commenced and often do not account for all of the rights to compensation afforded to you at law. If you find yourself in this situation, consider consulting with a lawyer before signing the offer to purchase in order to best protect your property interest. You may be able to enter into an agreement with the expropriating authority to sell your property voluntarily while protecting your rights to compensation under the Expropriations Act. This type of agreement is commonly referred to as a Section 30 Agreement.
You may have rights to compensation even if you are not a land owner. The definition of what constitutes an “owner” is quite broad under most expropriation statutes. For example, tenants under lease agreements, including commercial and residential leases, are often considered owners. A mortgagee is also an owner. Similarly, you may have rights to compensation even if you have not been expropriated. As an example, a business may be substantially impacted by a expropriation authority’s construction activities on nearby land. Speak to one of our lawyers if you fit into one of these categories and have reason to believe that you may suffer a loss as a result of a expropriation authority’s expropriation or construction work.
To speak to us about your case call one of the lawyers below or contact us at 416-868-3100 (or toll-free at 1-888-223-0448). Alternatively, you can complete and submit a consultation request form online.