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  • Writer's pictureDebbie O'Connor

City of Ottawa Property Acquisition Agreements

When roads are widened or the City requires easements over private property, the City will negotiate a Property Acquisition Agreement with the property owner.

The City of Ottawa is currently engaged in the construction of a Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel (CSSTT) as part of the Ottawa River Action Plan (ORAP), to reduce the frequency of sewage overflows from entering the Ottawa River during storms and reducing the risk of basement flooding in several low-lying areas in the Glebe/O'Connor area.

The CSST project includes the construction of an east-west tunnel through the downtown core from LeBreton Flats to New Edinburgh Park, and a north-south tunnel along Kent Street from Catherine Street to existing infrastructure, just behind the Supreme Court. Construction will begin in 2016 and continue until 2019 with operation of the Tunnel to begin in 2020.

In order to complete the Tunnel, the City is acquiring land through negotiated Property Acquisition Agreements with the owners of property in which the tunnel will be located. At the same time, the City is proceeding with the expropriation process for these properties in the event that a mutually acceptable Property Acquisition Agreement cannot be successfully negotiated.

Expropriation is governed entirely by statute (the Expropriations Act). One aspect of damages under the Expropriations Act is market value. Market value is calculated on the basis of the highest and best use of the property which may not be the property's current use. It is advisable to obtain an appraisal of the underground property being conveyed (or any property being transferred to the City) in order to determine the market value as it relates to the highest and best use of the property.

One of the other aspects of damages under the Expropriations Act is injurious affection. Injurious affection (as it relates to the acquisition of property) is defined as follows:

"injurious affection" means,

(a) where a statutory authority acquires part of the land of an owner,

(i) the reduction in market value thereby caused to the remaining land of the owner by the acquisition or by the construction of the works thereon or by the use of the works thereon or any combination of them, and

(ii) such personal and business damages, resulting from the construction or use, or both, of the works as the statutory authority would be liable for if the construction or use were not under the authority of a statute.

To summarize, Injurious affection includes a decrease in market value of the remaining land and/or personal or business damages resulting from the construction. In negotiating the property acquisition agreement, it is important to ensure that all damages are addressed and that the rights afforded to the property owner in the Property Acquisition Agreement are the same as the rights he or she would have if the property were expropriated.

I have experience in negotiating all types of Property Acquisition Agreements including the sale of land to the City for road widening purposes, easements and acquisition of land for the construction of the CSST Tunnel.


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