How Does Expropriation Happen?
When an expropriating authority decides to acquire private land, it must first notify every person who has an interest in the land it intends to take. The Expropriation Act specifies the information that must be included in the notice of intention. The notice of intention must be given either in person or by registered mail, and published at least twice in a local newspaper.
Once the notice of intention has been given, interested persons may file a “notice of objection” to the proposed expropriation. They may question whether the taking is fair, sound and reasonably necessary to achieve the objectives of the expropriating authority. For example, an owner might argue that a right of way through his or her land should be narrower than the expropriating authority demanded. They may not, however, dispute the right of the expropriating authority to resort to expropriation, or object to the project itself: a decision to construct a new highway, school, or hospital is political in nature, and is not for a court to decide.
Any notice of objection must be made to the approving authority within 21 days of receiving notice of the intended expropriation. Section 10 sets out the requirements for a notice of objection: it must include the name and address of the person objecting, the nature of the objection, the grounds on which the objection is based, and the nature of the person’s interest in the land in question. If nobody objects to an expropriation within the 21-day period, the proposed expropriation can be approved. But if the approving authority receives a notice of objection, an inquiry officer holds a public inquiry to determine “whether the intended expropriation is fair, sound and reasonably necessary in the achievement of the objectives of the expropriating authority.” The inquiry officer provides a report which the approving authority must consider in its ultimate decision to approve, modify or disapprove the intended expropriation.
The Expropriation Act permits Cabinet to approve an intended expropriation without an inquiry only when Cabinet is satisfied that the expropriating authority requires the land urgently and that delay would be prejudicial to the public interest.
Upon approval, the expropriating authority must register its interest and notify the owner that the expropriation will proceed.