Expropriations (A Homeowners Guide)

Posted on 2 June 2021 Back to News

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Land expropriation involves the government or other expropriating authority claiming ownership of privately owned property for a public benefit. The Expropriations Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.26 (the “Act”) in force in Ontario defines expropriation as the taking of land without consent of the owner by an expropriating authority in the exercise of its statutory powers.

The expropriation process begins with the service of Notice via registered mail from the expropriating authority informing you that your land will be required for a public purpose. This letter will set out the process, the land required and details of the public purpose. Note: your rights and obligations under the Act are limited by timelines surrounding this Notice.

Land expropriation in Ontario is undertaken for several purposes, including the construction of new roads and highways or the expansion of existing roads and highways, the improvement of local infrastructure as well as other public projects. If your land is subject to expropriation, this can undoubtedly have a disruptive impact on your life, personally as well as financially. Therefore, it is important to immediately consider your options and, if needed, retain experienced legal counsel to advise you of your rights and options.


The Act provides for compensation to be paid to the owner of expropriated land. This compensation is based upon several factors, including the land’s market value, the damages attributable to the disturbance, damages for injurious affection as well as any special difficulties involved in relocating.

The market value of the land is based on the going rates for land per square foot multiplied by the number of square feet the expropriating authority requires from a landowner.

Damages due to disturbance are those that are a “natural and reasonable consequence of the expropriation” such as the relocation of a fence, damage to trees or other property located on the expropriated land. This may also include compensation for business loss if the land being expropriated is land on which a business is operated.

Finally, injurious affection damages are not guaranteed but occur when the expropriating authority expropriates only a portion of the property and the property remaining has decreased in value due to the expropriation. Owners can claim damages for the reduction in the market value of their remaining land due to the expropriation.

If the landowner disagrees with the compensation being offered by the expropriating authority there are options available and it will be paramount to consult experienced legal counsel.


Once a governmental body has identified property that it wishes to acquire for a planned project, the property owner will be approached with an offer to sell the land voluntarily in exchange for an agreed amount of compensation. If the property owner refuses to sell their land, the expropriating authority may be permitted to proceed to force the transfer.

Firstly, a Notice of Application for Approval to Expropriate Land will be served on the property owner. The property owner will then have the option of requesting a Hearing of Necessity disputing if the land/project is truly required for the public purpose stated by the expropriating authority.

After the expropriation has been approved by the governmental approval authority, an Expropriation Plan will be registered in the Land Registry Office and the property will subsequently vest in the governmental body’s ownership. Within 3 months after the registration of this plan and prior to taking possession of the property, the governmental body must serve an appraisal report as well as a settlement offer upon the property owner for their consideration.

Either the governmental body or the owner of the property may apply to the Board of Negotiation for a meeting to facilitate settlement between the parties with respect to the compensation. The Board of Negotiation shall inspect the property. If the negotiation proceedings do not result in a settlement, either party may proceed to serve the other with a Notice of Arbitration have the compensation determined by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal in a binding decision.


Land expropriation can be a stressful and complicated process. Acting decisively and in a timely fashion is necessary to ensure that your rights are protected.  Our legal team is equipped to navigate the statutory complexities and provide you with the best results.

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