Ontario's Government introduced new legislation on October 22, 2020 with the stated purpose of advancing infrastructure projects around Ontario. While Bill 222, the Ontario Rebuilding and Recovery Act, 2020, contemplates a range of initiatives, there is a particular focus on accelerating the delivery of major public transit and highway projects. This is of particular interest to owners of property along the proposed route of these projects who may wish to bring claims under the Expropriations Act for compensation related to expropriation or injurious affection, and to participants in the transit and construction industries.
In brief, the Ontario Rebuilding and Recovery Act, 2020 proposes the following key legislative changes:
- Amend the Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 (the "BTFA") to expand its application to additional major transit projects yet to be specified. It is expected that, in addition to the four GTA projects currently listed, the BFTA will eventually apply to a much larger number of transit projects, many of which will be outside the GTA;
- Amend the Public Service Works on Highways Act to carry over the provisions of the BFTA regarding Utility Company Cooperation Enforcement and the relocation of utilities; and
- Amend the Transit-Oriented Communities Act, 2020 to expand its application to additional transit projects yet to be specified. These changes will provide further exemptions from Hearings of Necessity under the Expropriations Act, and give the Minister of Transportation expanded authority to enter into alternative commercial arrangements for these additional projects and greater power to delegate this authority to Metrolinx or other agencies.
Overall, the draft legislation signals the Government's intention to employ an expedited process for facilitating a greater number of transit projects in a more wide-spread area throughout the province. On October 29, 2020, Bill 222 passed second reading and has been referred to the Standing Committee on Social Policy. Bill 222 must pass through third reading before receiving royal assent and becoming law.
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