Delivering Transit Faster in the GTA: Building Transit Faster Act Becomes Law
On July 8, 2020, Bill 171, Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 (the “Act”) received Royal Assent and came into force as law. The purpose of the Act is to expedite the planning, design and construction process of four priority transit projects:
- Ontario Line
- Scarborough Subway Extension
- Yonge North Subway Extension
- Eglinton Crosstown West Extension
(References to priority transit projects refer to the above-noted projects.)
The Act expedites the delivery of the four priority transit projects by implementing transit corridor control, eliminating a procedural step in the expropriation process, and introducing processes for the relocation of utilities and for access to municipal service and right of way. The following is an overview of the Act and its impacts on landowners:
Transit Corridor Control
- The Act introduces a requirement to apply for and receive permits from the Minister of Transportation (“Minister”)/Metrolinx for any development on or under, or within 30 metres of, land designated as transit corridor land, except certain works related to utility infrastructure. A permit is not required for work that has received all required approvals before the land was designated as transit corridor land. However, the Minister/Metrolinx may impose a six-month timeline to complete the work, failing which a development permit will be needed. While the Act does not include any criteria to determine whether a permit should be issued and the timelines for issuing such a permit, the Minister may establish a review process with respect to permit decisions.
- The Act permits the Minister/Metrolinx to remove structures (including part of a building), trees, shrub, hedges or other prescribed items on or under, and within 30 metres of, transit corridor land that pose an obstruction to construction of a priority transit project. The Minister/Metrolinx must attempt to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement with the property owner on how to carry out the removal of the obstruction. If an agreement cannot be reached within a certain time period, the Minister/Metrolinx can enter the property and remove the obstruction, without the property owner’s consent.
- The Act permits the Minister/Metrolinx to remove structures (including part of a building), trees, shrubs, hedges, or other prescribed items on or under, and within 30 metres of, transit corridor land that pose an immediate danger to construction of a priority transit project. The Minister/Metrolinx does not need to provide notice to enter onto the property to inspect the construction danger, but must make reasonable efforts to provide notice to the property owner, tenant or occupant before removing or eliminating the construction danger. The Minister/Metrolinx does not need the property owner’s consent to inspect and eliminate the construction danger.
- The Act permits the Minister/Metrolinx to enter onto a property that is on, or within 30 metres of, transit corridor land to make records and conduct tests for due diligence in planning and construction of a priority transit project (i.e. “preview inspection”). While the Minister/Metrolinx must provide advance notice of a preview inspection, it does not need the property owner’s consent to enter onto the property and carry out due diligence activities.
The Act provides a process to compensate owners for the items removed and any damages as a result of the works, and requires the Minister/Metrolinx to make reasonable efforts to restore the property following the work. However, a person who hinders, obstructs or interferes with an obstruction removal, construction danger inspection and elimination, or preview inspection loses the right to compensation.
- The Act eliminates hearings of necessity for expropriations of property on transit corridor land, if the expropriations are for the purpose of a priority transit project. Under the Ontario Expropriations Act, an owner who has been served with a Notice of Application for Approval to Expropriate Land has the right to request a hearing into whether the proposed expropriation is “fair, sound and reasonably necessary.” The Act eliminates the right of an owner to challenge a proposed expropriation on the grounds that it is not “fair, sound and reasonably necessary”, if the expropriation is on transit corridor land and for a priority transit project. As an alternative to the hearings, the Minister may establish a process for receiving and considering comments from property owners about a proposed expropriation.
Utility Company Cooperation
- The Act requires utility companies to move utility infrastructure, if necessary, for a priority transit project. If Metrolinx requires a utility company to move the location of utility infrastructure, Metrolinx must provide notice and enter into negotiations with the utility company to coordinate the works.
Municipal Service and Right of Way Access
- The Act requires municipalities to provide municipal service and right of way access for a priority transit project. Metrolinx must negotiate with the affected municipality to agree on the terms for the municipal service and right of way access. If negotiations fail, the Minister may make an order to require the municipal service and right of way access.
The Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 can be found at: https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/bills/parliament-42/session-1/bill-171
If you may be impacted by the priority transit projects and the Building Transit Faster Act, 2020, please do not hesitate to contact us