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Property and Transit Construction

Why does Metrolinx need to acquire property?

The region is growing – an estimated 10 million people will live here by 2041 – but public transit has not kept up to meet that demand.

Improving the transportation network is vital to keeping the growth of our communities sustainable. By providing faster, easier options to move around, traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced as more people choose transit and leave their vehicles at home.

Metrolinx is building more than 40 kilometres of new subway lines, almost 50 kilometres of new LRT lines, and more than 200 kilometres of new GO train tracks that will bring upwards of 100 new stations and stops throughout the region.

You can learn more about the progress we’re making on each project here.

One of the challenges of building so many major transit projects in built-up urban areas is that there isn’t very much free space. This means that, in some cases, Metrolinx must acquire property.

Metrolinx follows all applicable laws, rules and regulations to ensure individuals and businesses impacted by property acquisition are treated with the utmost respect and receive the supports they need.

How will I know if my property is being acquired?

Metrolinx may need to acquire property temporarily or permanently to support the construction and operation of important new transit projects. If Metrolinx confirms that your property is needed, you will receive written notification from us informing you that this is case.

After that, Metrolinx will arrange to meet with you to answer any questions you may have, including how much property is needed and why, how the acquisition process works, and expected timelines. Multiple meetings will take place throughout the property acquisition process to ensure you have the information and support you need.

If you live near a proposed project and you haven’t been contacted by Metrolinx yet, it could be for one of two reasons:

  1. Either no impacts to your property are anticipated, or
  2. Teams may not be at the stage where they are able to confirm if your property is needed, though it may be confirmed through further design work.

Metrolinx strives to communicate with property owners early and often so that there is ample time to work through solutions.

Each property need is unique

We strive to limit the amount of property we need to support the construction of important and much-needed transit infrastructure.

Sometimes an entire property is needed, and sometimes just part of it is needed. Some properties may be needed permanently, and others just temporarily during construction.

Whatever the case, Metrolinx will clearly indicate what is needed and for how long in the written notification you receive.

What happens if my property is needed?

Our preferred approach is to enter into direct negotiations with owners, with the goal of reaching amicable agreements.

Whether we have to acquire a portion of your property or your entire property, you will be compensated.

Metrolinx is committed to providing as much time as possible. The acquisition process can take up to 18 months but can also be completed earlier, depending on the specific case.

In all cases, owners are compensated for their property at a price they could expect through a sale at fair market value.

In cases where property can be handed back to an owner after construction, Metrolinx ensures it is restored to its pre-construction state or better.

Whenever Metrolinx needs to acquire property to support a new transit project, our commitment is to ensure that owners and tenants do not experience a financial loss.

What is fair market value?

Fair market value represents the value of the property based on the market conditions at that time. A third-party appraisal will be completed to estimate the fair market value.

You may also complete your own appraisal to determine or confirm the fair market value. In some cases, other kinds of third-party experts may be asked to help determine fair market value for a property, such as environmental consultants.

What is expropriation?

Expropriation is a process that enables a government agency like Metrolinx to acquire property without a direct agreement with the owner for the purpose of building public infrastructure, while still ensuring that owners are compensated at fair market value in keeping with the Expropriations Act.

Expropriation is only initiated if it becomes clear that an agreement might not be reached within the required timelines for the specific transit project.

The preferred approach is always to negotiate directly with owners to reach amicable, mutually beneficial agreements.

Even when expropriation is initiated, Metrolinx continues to negotiate with owners in the hope of reaching an agreement.

Support for tenants

If you rent your home or business space, Metrolinx has supports in place to ensure you are taken care of.

Each case is considered independently and your lease terms are always taken into consideration. Supports are tailored to your specific needs and are determined through discussions during the acquisition process.

Whenever Metrolinx needs to acquire property to support a new transit project, our commitment is to ensure that owners and tenants do not experience a financial loss.

Supports specific to businesses

When businesses are impacted by the construction of a transit project, Metrolinx works with owners and tenants to see how they may be able to continue operating.

If operations are impacted, compensation and supports may be provided. Each case is considered independently to ensure the right solutions are in place for each business.

Permission to access property

Metrolinx may need to visit your property to help prepare transit plans – this could be for inspections, to make records or to conduct tests related to the planning or construction of a transit project.

If access to your property is needed for transit plans, Metrolinx will contact you and explain what is needed. Metrolinx will work with you to negotiate a “permission to enter” agreement, which outlines the details of where, when and how Metrolinx will visit your property. Workers will follow all necessary health measures to ensure your safety during these visits.

Transit Corridor Lands

Metrolinx is working with the Province to ensure important transit projects are delivered on time by avoiding issues that have caused delays in the past. To do this, the Province now allows land that may be needed for transit construction to be designated as transit corridor land.

Transit corridor lands are lands that may be needed for the planning, design and construction of priority transit projects. Designating these lands will help Metrolinx build transit faster, resulting in fewer inconveniences for neighbouring communities. Transit corridor lands will be identified for all priority transit projects, including the Ontario Line, the Scarborough Subway Extension, the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension and the Yonge North Subway Extension.

Project planners and engineers set the boundaries for transit corridor lands by first looking at the existing conditions and infrastructure along the proposed route of the project, like sewer mains, roadways and bridges. Then, they examined what kind of work would need to be done during planning and construction, how it might affect existing infrastructure, and how much room might be needed for the work.

Once the boundaries were set, an additional 30-metre buffer area was added surrounding the transit corridor lands to allow for any other needs that could come up during further design and construction work. The same changes apply to these areas as well.

How will I know if my property is on transit corridor land?

If your property is located on transit corridor land or within the 30- metre buffer area, you will be notified by letter. A notice of this designation will also appear on the title of your property, which will be shown in the land registry. This notice will be removed once construction of the project is complete.

You can also look up your property to see if it falls in the transit corridor land or the additional 30 metre buffer zone using the interactive map.

What does it mean if my property is on transit corridor land?

Many who own or occupy property on transit corridor land will experience little to no impacts. For others, it may mean a change to some existing processes. If your property is needed in any way, you will hear from Metrolinx well in advance.

Owning property that is on transit corridor land does not restrict or prevent you from renting, leasing or selling your property now or in the future.

Certain conditions that apply to properties on transit corridor land include the following:

  • Getting permits for planned work: If you are planning to build, change or place a building, other structure or road on or under your property, a permit from Metrolinx may be required in addition to any necessary municipal permits. The same applies to excavation and water drainage work. This new permitting requirement will help avoid conflicts with nearby transit construction and reduce the likelihood that you might have to stop or redo your work in the future. There is no fee to apply for a Metrolinx permit. If you are planning any of these activities, please visit metrolinx.com/permits or send an email to development.coordinator@metrolinx.com.
  • Allowing access for transit planning: If Metrolinx needs to visit your property to help prepare transit plans, we would first try to reach a “permission to enter” agreement with you, as described above. Metrolinx will reach out in advance and work with you to determine a mutually agreeable day and time to visit your property.

    In cases where an agreement can’t be reached within established project timelines, you will receive 30 days advance notice of any required visits. Workers will not enter any homes and will follow all necessary health measures to ensure your safety during these visits.

    The plans Metrolinx prepares may identify a need to remove something that could interfere with construction, such as a shed, tree, or hedge. If this applies to your property, Metrolinx will also give you at least 30 days advance notice.

    If something on your property needs to be removed, Metrolinx will work with you to come to an agreement on how to best carry out the work and determine compensation.

    The only time advance notice might not be provided is if something on your property is an immediate safety risk to project construction. If this is the case, Metrolinx can enter your property to inspect the item and, if necessary, remove it.

Transit Corridor Land FAQs

I’m pretty far from the proposed route – why did I get a letter?

The distance between the transit corridor land boundary and the route of the transit line varies along the route of the project. In some cases, the transit corridor lands will only extend a short distance from the line, while in other places, they might extend several hundred metres. Boundaries extend to the furthest possible point where land may be needed for any reason – for instance, environmental studies about noise and vibration, utility relocation, access points for construction, or areas where traffic may need to be temporarily diverted.

Property owners in the 30- metre buffer area surrounding the transit corridor lands also received a notice, as the same permitting and property access conditions apply to their property.

How will transit corridor lands prevent delays?

The conditions that apply to property on transit corridor lands and the 30- metre buffer area allow Metrolinx to work directly with property owners and utility companies to coordinate access and work, and to review plans. This means Metrolinx has the information it needs sooner, ensuring everyone is aware of potential impacts – and how to avoid them – as early as possible.

Is the designation of my property as transit corridor land permanent?

No. The transit corridor land designation for the planning design and construction phases of a project. Once construction is complete and the line opens, the designation will be removed from the property title.

Won’t this reduce the value of my property?

Simply having property on transit corridor land doesn’t mean your property will lose value. In fact, we’ve seen that property that is close to transit increases in value. The notice on title is similar to other information notices that commonly appear on property titles, like for properties within an airport zone.

We understand that construction isn’t a selling feature, but the goal of transit corridor lands is to help construction move quickly. The designation doesn’t prevent you from selling or leasing your property.

When do I need a permit from Metrolinx?

Permits are needed for work that would add, change or extend a structure on the property, such as a shed or an extension on a home. They are also needed for excavation or drainage work, like when building a pool. You won’t need a permit for work inside your home, like renovating a kitchen or bathroom.

Permits help Metrolinx understand what work might be happening along the priority transit project corridor and avoid conflicts that might delay transit construction or your plans. Metrolinx wants to work with you to coordinate construction activities and timing – not prevent you from making improvements. It is not expected that plans will be impacted in the large majority of cases. If some changes to your plans are required, Metrolinx will work with you on a solution.

For more information on what kind of work may need a permit, visit metrolinx.com/permits.

Find out more

If you have questions about our property acquisition process or a Metrolinx project being built close to you, please reach to the Community Relations team in your area: