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Municipal Law > Expropriation

In expropriation, a public body takes private land for public use, such as a highway expansion. This is a very serious exercise of public authority. The available options for private property owners seeking to keep their land are extremely limited.

However, this does not mean that owners have no rights. A system has been set up to protect property owners, to defend their rights and to compensate them fairly for their loss.

We represent property owners exclusively in expropriation proceedings, but have represented municipalities and expropriating authorities on other legal matters. We are familiar with their priorities. We know how to work with them, because we’ve worked for them. We will use that experience to get you the best value for your land, and fair compensation for related losses.


There are many steps to an expropriation. They include:

  • Initial discussions: At this step, you may discover that your land is being considered for expropriation. The public — which includes owners, tenants and anyone affected by the proposed project — may try to propose solutions that don’t involve expropriation.
  • Negotiations: The municipal authority will offer what they believe is a fair price for your land, hoping to not have to expropriate. You are under no obligation to accept this.
  • Fighting expropriation: In rare cases, you may ask the expropriating authority to prove that the expropriation is fair, sound and reasonably necessary, or show that the expropriating authority does not actually have the right to expropriate your particular land. After looking over your case, we will advise you as to whether such efforts are worth your time and energy.
  • Compensation: The bulk of our work involves striving to make sure that you receive the best compensation for your property and related losses, through negotiation or mediation, or by appearing before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (formerly the Ontario Municipal Board), when necessary.

Being Made Whole

Our lawyers will ensure that you are treated fairly during this entire process. Your compensation should be based on the market value of the most valuable use of your land, and you must be compensated for disturbance damages — i.e., the cost of having to relocate and start your life over again somewhere else.

If only part of your land is being used, we will ensure that you are fairly compensated for inconvenience and loss in property value that you will suffer as a result.

All reasonable costs incurred to determine fair compensation are the responsibility of the expropriating authority.

Contact Vice & Hunter LLP

If your land is going to be used for public development in Ottawa or surrounding regions, call us at 613-701-0898 or 866-252-0670 toll-free or fill out our online form below.