All levels of government, public utility companies, and, in some cases, private individuals have the ability to take property (usually, land) from private owners for some specific purpose, like a road. In British Columbia, this is called “expropriation.” Other jurisdictions refer to it as either “condemnation” or “eminent domain". In almost every instance, the owner of the property is entitled to full compensation for what has or will be taken.

Like most things in life, it sounds straightforward, but it is not. There are different laws that apply to different types of expropriations. There are peculiar laws and legal principles that apply specifically and only to expropriation. The zoning laws are different, the tax laws are different, the owners’ entitlement to court costs is different, the limitation period for seeking compensation is different, the list goes on and on.

In addition, the government or the public utility seeking to take the owner’s property is often well versed in the expropriation process and has at its disposal: negotiators, lawyers, appraisers, planners, business valuators, engineers, and whatever other experts or consultants they need to successfully navigate through the expropriation process. For owners, on the other hand, this is often their first and last experience with an expropriation. Consequently, owners rarely have at their disposal any expert to assist them. That is where we come in.

We have twenty years of experience helping property owners negotiate, mediate, arbitrate, and litigate claims for compensation resulting from an expropriation. Using that experience, we can help an owner establish a more even playing field for dealing with an expropriating authority. We will identify the types of losses incurred, such as: the value of the land taken, the reduction in the value of the land left to the owner, any business losses resulting from the taking, and other costs and damages suffered as a result of the taking. We will find and instruct the right experts to quantify the compensation owing for the various losses suffered. We will help the owner decide when to settle and when to fight.

Additional Information

Road map through the expropriation process
Questionnaire for expropriation clients
Presentation from the B.C. expropriation association's fall conference.

Legislation Related to Expropriation

Expropriation Act
CRA Tax Act Exchange of Property Information
Tax Implications of Expropriation
Local Government Act
Community Charter
Regulatory Expropriations: Taking without Compensation?
Transportation Act
Water Act
Mining Right of Way Act
Petroleum and Natural Gas Act
Administrative Tribunals Act
Drainage, Ditch and Dike Act
Gas Utility Act
Hydro and Power Authority Act
Heritage Conservation Act
Park Act
Petroleum and Natural Gas Act
Railway Act
School Act

A Sampling of Informative Court Decisions Concerning Expropriation

Adroit Resources Inc. v. HMTQ (British Columbia),2010 BCCA 334
Associated Building Credits Ltd. v. British Columbia (Minister of Transportation and Highways),2007 BCCA 546
Atco Lumber Ltd. v. Kootenay Boundary (Regional District),2014 BCSC 524
Bayview Builder's Supply (1972) Ltd. v. British Columbia, 1999 BCCA 144
Devick v. British Columbia (Minister of Transportation and Highways),1998 CanLII 6136
Diggon-Hibben Ltd. v. The King, [1949] SCR 712
Drader v. Abbotsford (City),2012 BCSC 873
Fraser v. The Queen, [1963] SCR 455
Holdom v. British Columbia Transit, 2006 BCCA 282
Imperial Oil Ltd. v. R., [1974] SCR 623
Laidlaw v. Metro Toronto, [1978] 2 SCR 736
Lulu Island Holdings Ltd. v. GVSDD, 2007 BCSC 938
Manitoba Fisheries Ltd. v. The Queen, [1979] 1 SCR 101
Maple Ridge Projects Ltd. v. British Columbia, 1997 CanLII 3643
M.C.A. Land Development Corp. v. British Columbia (Transportation and Infrastructure),2013 BCSC 1625
Mcphail's Equipment Co. Ltd. v. Surrey (City of),1997 CanLII 2768
Patterson v. British Columbia (Minister of Transportation and Highways),1997 CanLII 4109
R. v. Tener, [1985] 1 SCR 533
Rockcliffe Estates Ltd., 2014 BCSC 77
Saint John Priory of Canada Properties v. City of Saint John, [1972] SCR 746
Schiebel v. Hope (District),2014 BCSC 949
Sequoia Springs West Development Corp. v. British Columbia (Minister of Transportation and Highways),2003 BCCA 8
St. Pierre v. Ontario (Minister of Transportation and Communications),[1987] 1 SCR 906
Susan Heyes Inc. (Hazel & Co.) v. South Coast B.C. Transportation Authority, 2011 BCCA 77
Thunderbird Entertainment Ltd. v. Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, 2011 BCSC 636
Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority v. Dell Holdings Ltd., [1997] 1 SCR 32

Expropriation Compensation Board Decisions

Jesperson's Brake & Muffler Ltd. v. Chilliwack
McPhail's Equipment Co. Ltd. v. City of Surrey
Our expropriation lawyers are Jeff Frame, David Hughes and Courtney AuBuchon.