New Stories Show Why You May Need Legal Representation in an Expropriation in Ontario

legal representation in an expropriation case

If your property is the subject of an expropriation in Ontario, you have a number of rights and entitlements.

The primary right of owners, tenants, and mortgagees of a property being expropriated is that of legal representation. Still, considering the wording of Ontario’s Expropriations Act, which defines expropriation as the “the taking of land without the consent of the owner by an Expropriating Authority in the exercise of its statutory powers”, the reaction of those affected by an expropriation is often an emotional one.

“How can someone, or even an authority, take my land, or the place where I live or work, without my consent?” It can seem like the polar opposite of what should happen in a free country. The sheer counterintuitiveness of the stated definition of an expropriation can make that affected feel like they may not need legal representation. “Why do I need a representative for something that is so clearly ‘wrong’?”

There can also be confusion over the costs of legal representation in an expropriation. Property owners and tenants can be initially hesitant because of the perception that they may need to undertake substantial costs.

First, it’s important for anyone who is subject to an expropriation to know that, generally speaking, all your reasonable legal, professional and other applicable costs, including items like getting your property valuated, incurred due to the expropriation, will be paid by the expropriating authority.

Why Legal Representation May Be Needed in an Ontario Expropriation

Every case of expropriation can be quite different and have mitigating factors that may be unprecedented. To give you an idea of how cases can be quite different from each other, and why you might need legal representation, here are two recent examples of expropriations in Ontario from the news.

  • Hearing scheduled in $11.5 million expropriation case against Queen’s (University)

    In 2008, a Queen’s University professor put two properties up for sale for a total of $8,950,000. Before the deal could close, the professor was approached by the University to let her know they planned to expropriate the property, which meant she could not sell. After allowing the University to go ahead with the expropriation, the professor was compensated with a payment of $1,745,000.

    Today, 10 years later, the matter still isn't settled and hearings are scheduled as far away as March 19, 2019.

  • A local board wants to build a high school in the middle of the family’s operation

    If a property owner opposes an appropriation, the owner has the right to request a Hearing of Necessity. The Hearing will review the expropriation brought forward by the Expropriating Authority and the reasons why the owner opposes the expropriation. Following the Hearing, the Hearing Report is reviewed by the expropriation Approving Authority, which will decide either not to proceed with the expropriation, proceed with the expropriation, or proceed with the expropriation with modifications.

    Generally, Expropriating Authorities and Approving Authorities are separate entities, with the potential exception of elected school boards.

    In this case, a farm owner is opposed to the expropriation of a piece of his land for a school due to concerns about student safety and the effect on his livelihood.  One of the other main concerns of the landowner is that, in this case, the Expropriating Authority and the Approving Authority are the same entity, the local school board.

If you are subject to an expropriation and would like legal representation with expertise relating to the expropriation of lands in Ontario, contact us here at Bisceglia & Associates to schedule a no-charge consultation.