Committee OKs some land expropriations for bus rapid transit, sends issue to full council

A London Transit bus waits at a bus stop on Richmond Street at Pall Mall Street, June 14, 2017 (Matthew Trevithick/AM980). Matthew Trevithick/ 980 CFPL

The city of London is on the path toward expropriating portions of nearly 80 properties to make room for bus rapid transit (BRT).

Members of the corporate services committee voted 3-1 and 4-0 on two separate motions Tuesday afternoon in favour of expropriating parts of 79 parcels of land to keep the construction of two rapid transit projects on time.

Should full council pass the bylaws related to the two motions, 48 properties along the Wellington Gateway route and 31 properties along the East London Link route would have a portion of their lands expropriated for road widening and sound barrier installation.

In two separate reports to the committee, one for each BRT route, city staff say the expropriation must be done now to stay on schedule. While negotiations with landowners have been ongoing since the fall of 2022, dozens of properties remain outstanding.

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“As legal possession of all property requirements will be needed to commence utility work and award a construction contract, the expropriation of all outstanding property is necessary,” reads part of the report.

The reports, one for each BRT project, say negotiations are ongoing with the outstanding property owners in parallel with the expropriation process.

Municipalities can expropriate land from property owners as long as the landowners receive fair market compensation for the lands lost. The expropriation must be considered “fair, sound, and reasonably necessary.”

Property owners are entitled to go before the Ontario Land Tribunal if there is a disagreement regarding the compensation awarded during expropriation.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Coun. Susan Stevenson raised issues over a lack of information about the East London Link project.

“There is a lot of concern in the area and about the project itself, the expropriation and the lack of information,” said Stevenson, pointing to the fact the city’s website for the East Link project only has information on phases one and two but the expropriation in question is for phases three and four.

Stevenson was the lone no on the East Link vote.

Following a request by Coun. David Ferreira, staff said they can provide council with information on the size of land needed to expropriate from each lot.

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The report states there is room in the budget for the acquisition costs of all necessary lands for phases three and four of the BRT.

The committee’s decision will come before council on June 6.

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