Can I Fight or Contest an Expropriation?
Assuming the expropriating authority is acting within its jurisdiction to take land, the simple answer is yes, but with potentially limited upside.
The Expropriations Act allows for an Inquiry process whereby an owner can challenge whether an anticipated expropriation is “fair, sound or reasonably necessary”. An Inquiry under the Act is often informally referred to as a “Hearing of Necessity”, and as the name suggests the aim of the Inquiry is to determine whether the lands are necessary for the purpose for which they are to be expropriated. An Inquiry is not a forum to challenge the objective for which the lands are being taken, nor is it a forum to deal with issues of compensation.
Although an approving authority must consider the Report of the Inquiry Officer when deciding whether to approve an expropriation, it is not bound by the outcome of the Inquiry. The approving authority has the discretion to approve the proposed expropriation despite the findings of the Inquiry Officer. In other words, the Inquiry Officer’s findings can be viewed as a recommendation.
There are certain circumstances in which an Inquiry is not available. The Act provides that where the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council considers it necessary or expedient in the public interest, it may direct that the intended expropriation process proceed without the option of an Inquiry. In these situations the authority need not apply to expropriate the lands it requires and can advance directly with the intended expropriation.