Canadian Lawyer

June 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 33 of 51

32 BILLIONS OF DOLLARS have been pouring into infrastructure projects across the country in recent years, thanks to a 12-year federal government plan. And more will likely follow as governments look to re-build their economies post COVID-19. In April, Alberta — anticipating unemployment to reach 25 per cent as a result of the double whammy of the health crisis and plunging oil prices — announced a doubling of its budget this year for infrastructure maintenance and renewal to $1.9 billion. Right across the country, highways have As governments continue to invest in large projects, business owners seek clarity on the rules around land acquisition, writes Marg. Bruineman With infrastructure investment comes expropriation been expanded, new bridges erected and trans- portation systems developed. All that requires the acquisition of land, which has ushered in some legislative re-alignment, a re-examina- tion of regulations and inevitable legal issues where inequities sometimes surface. "There's lots of infrastructure projects being done at every level of government and that generates a lot of work," says expropriation lawyer John Doherty, a partner with Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP in Kitchener, Ont. That, he says, can cause concern for prop- erty owners. He points to the Hamilton LRT project, which was put on hold after the prov- ince held back funding. Typically, property owners are not compensated for any improve- ments done after notice of expropriation. But when a project has already launched and nego- tiations for acquisition have begun, with some acquisitions already complete, and the project suddenly stalls, property owners are left in limbo, especially if there's anticipation that the project will be resurrected at some point. Doherty suspects there's a possibility that authorities might, at some point, be held to a time limit to reduce that uncertainty. That's an approach that is being broached in the United Kingdom to try to avoid a situation where a property owner is held in limbo for a decade or more, he says. In fact, the Ontario government is acknowl- edging the need to move quickly with expro- priations to better accommodate the Toronto Transit Commission's subway system's expan- sion project. The province introduced Bill 171 earlier this year, to enact the Building Transit Faster Act, 2020, which sees the elimination of hearings of necessity. Out in Surrey, a particularly busy part of British Columbia attracting growth and "Advance notice is one of the hallmarks of the modern expropriation codes . . . the idea being that the property owner should not be out of pocket and also while deprived of title pending final settlement on the compensation claim." Bruce Melville, Peterson Stark Scott LEGAL REPORT REAL ESTATE

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