Ministry of Transportation’s GTA West Corridor Project Likely to Raise Expropriation Issues

In a news release dated August 7, 2020, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation has confirmed the preferred route for a new 400-series highway and transportation corridor, the GTA West Corridor project. This new significant infrastructure project will include a four to six lane highway, and it is expected that the overall traffic on this route will exceed 300,000 trips per day by 2031.

The preferred route for the GTA West Corridor spans York, Peel and Halton Regions. The route is proposed to run southwest from Highway 400 in Vaughan, north of Kirby Road, and will reach its terminus at the junction of Highway 401 and Highway 407 in western Mississauga.

The Environmental Assessment for the GTA West Corridor is expected to be completed by the end of 2022, and construction on the highway will take several years to complete. Once the Environmental Assessment is completed, this project will likely result in a significant number of full and partial takings of private property in the form of fee simple takings and temporary limited interests. Furthermore, the construction of a project of this magnitude may result in disturbance to both businesses and personal enjoyment of land. Accordingly, affected landowners should be aware of their rights, and their entitlement to compensation, provided under the Expropriations Act.

Of particular note is that this announcement comes on the heels of a recent provincial statute, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020, which eliminates hearings of necessity for any expropriation made under the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act, the statute which governs the construction of provincial highways by the Ministry of Transportation. A hearing of necessity is an independent inquiry into whether a proposed expropriation is “fair, sound and reasonably necessary in the achievement of the objectives of the expropriating authority,” and it is, practically speaking, a landowner’s most effective recourse to challenge a proposed expropriation.

In lieu of a hearing of necessity, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 does allow for alternative processes for comment to be created by the Ministry. A new process will likely be implemented to replace hearings of necessity for expropriations associated with the GTA West Corridor. The format of this process is forthcoming. It is advisable that landowners continue to monitor the progress of this infrastructure project and actively engage in the Environmental Assessment process as it unfolds.

Aird & Berlis has experience acting on behalf of property owners in both simple and complex transit and infrastructure undertakings. A member of the firm’s Expropriation Law Group would be happy to answer any questions you may have about this process.