Approved By: City Council
Category: General Administration
Approval Date: April 3, 2007
Effective Date: April 3, 2007
Revision Date: December 23, 2014
The City of Ottawa acquires real property rights as required, for a municipal need consistent with City-mandated programs, projects and policies. The general direction for this Policy is set through Section 220.127.116.11: Acquisition and Holding of Land, City of Ottawa Official Plan (2007), one of the City’s five Growth Management Plans.
The purpose of this Policy is to ensure that a consistent and equitable framework is followed in acquiring real property interests which support Council-approved projects, programs and policies.
This Policy applies where real property is acquired by the City of Ottawa and includes any right, interest or benefit in land, but is not limited to, fee simple acquisitions, leases, permanent easements, rights-of-way and other limited interests such as joint-use agreements, temporary working easements, consents to enter and licences.
This Policy applies to all City of Ottawa employees, any agents or assigns acting on behalf of the City and consultants authorized to acquire real property on behalf of the City. Real property such as road dedications and easements that are acquired through the planning/subdivision processes will continue to be dealt with as part of that process and in accordance with the Planning Act and any regulations therein.
In addition, the following municipal and provincial legislations give the City of Ottawa authority to acquire land:
- Municipal Act, 2001, s. 6, s.8 and s.11
- Expropriations Act, 1990
- City of Ottawa Act, 1999, s.12.3 (1) and s.12.5 (1)
- Housing Development Act, 1990, c. H.18, s. 17
- Heritage Act, 1975, s. 36 (2) and s. 45
The City’s Real Estate Partnerships and Development Office (REPDO) shall undertake the acquisition of real property interests in adherence with this Policy, unless otherwise directed by the City Manager or City Council.
Departmental needs assessment
Prior to initiating an acquisition other than lands required for infrastructure, acquisition of environmental/waterfront lands and pursuant to the Planning Act, the client department will prepare on its behalf, or on behalf of a partner agency, a departmental acquisition needs assessment that sets out the justification and rationale for the proposed acquisition. All assessments shall be vetted through REPDO, in collaboration with the client department to determine whether the City’s existing real property inventory, or any capital works initiatives, may fulfill the client’s requirements. This process could include an asset rationalization as defined in the Integrated Asset Rationalization and Disposal Strategy of Real Property. Should it be determined that the client’s needs cannot be met through the existing inventory, REPDO will initiate the acquisition.
City Council approval of a project shall include authority for the appropriate person(s) or body to initiate and undertake legal surveys, appraisals, negotiations, expropriations, legal and other such related activities, as may be required.
A budget item must be approved for the program or project, including the costs of acquiring a real property and operational budget impacts, before action is taken to acquire property.
Funding for the acquisition of real property must be identified through a Council- approved budget item, specific to the program, project or policy defining the need, or allocated from an approved departmental budget, with approval of the Deputy City Manager of the client department.
Methods of acquisition
Negotiation is the preferred method of obtaining real property rights, with compensation provided as though acquisition was pursuant to the Expropriations Act.
Where project requirements must be met in a timely manner, or where negotiation is unsuccessful, expropriation may be considered. The City of Ottawa has the authority to expropriate land in accordance with the provisions of the Expropriations Act. Expropriation will be used as a last resort for acquisition purposes. Where necessary, client departments shall allow for a minimum of 12 months lead time in their project planning, in anticipation that real property acquisition by expropriation may be required.
The City may acquire real property through gifts or donations, subject to Council approval, or that of its delegated authority. Before acceptance or rejection of a gift of real property, an analysis to determine the conditions of the gift, existing restrictions of encumbrances and assumption of liabilities or any tax implications, shall be carried out. A charitable donation receipt may be issued in the amount of the appraised market value of the donated real property. An independent appraisal shall determine the market value of any donated real property. A satisfactory Phase I Environmental Site Assessment will also be required. Any costs associated with the above will be borne by the donor or the client department.
Development approval process
The Planning and Growth Management department deals with land requirements such as parkland, road widening through conditions of final approval for subdivisions, site plans or other development approvals under delegated authority. Where delegated authority has been removed by the Ward Councillor, such matters are submitted to either the Planning and Environment Committee or the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and City Council for approval. This constitutes approval for the City to acquire the necessary lands pursuant to the Planning Act.
Tax sales – Vesting in municipality
The municipality may acquire real property, pursuant to Part XI of the Municipal Act, (Sale of Land for Tax Arrears) and by registering a Notice of Vesting, Section 379.
When an acquisition is contemplated in support of the Natural Environment Area or the Urban Natural Feature Area, as provided for in the Ottawa Official Plan and the Greenspace Master Plan, and it is deemed that an exchange of City-owned surplus real property is in the best interests of the City, negotiation shall be initiated based on the market value of the respective real properties, pursuant to the Disposal of Real Property Policy as set out in Schedule “B” of the Real Property Disposal By-law No. 2002-38.
Public–private partnerships (P3)
The City of Ottawa may acquire or dispose of an interest in real property as part of a P3 to provide infrastructure, community facilities and related services that would benefit the municipality, the private sector and City residents.
The City of Ottawa may acquire real property as the result of a transfer of jurisdiction from one level of government to another, such as transfer of highways, boat launches.
All real property acquisitions shall be supported with a current market value appraisal. An appraisal will be completed by an independent real estate professional or by a qualified City staff appraiser.
Where the estimated market value is $750,000 or greater, a second appraisal will be required, one of which will be undertaken by an independent real estate professional.
Appraisal reports will be based on the “Highest and Best Use” of the property and will be prepared by a qualified real estate professional or by a qualified City staff appraiser, in accordance with current standards of practice within the real estate industry.
Acquisition at market value
Real property shall be acquired on the basis of market value, and where applicable, entitlements, as defined by the Expropriations Act, unless other considerations are included in the transaction and approved by City Council.
Where there is a variance between the appraised value and the acquisition price, that variance shall be explained in the approval report.
Environmental due diligence
The City of Ottawa shall complete environmental pre-screening on all real property to be acquired to identify potential contamination issues associated with real property. The pre-screening will include a search of the Disposals and Environmental Remediation Unit’s records, a Historical Land Use Inventory (HLUI) search and a search of the City’s Drawing Centre on GeoOttawa for any relevant historical environmental reports.
When the acquisition is for the entire fee simple interest (total buyout) a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) will be conducted. If the acquisition is of a lesser interest but there is evidence further assessment is required, the Program Manager, Disposals and Environmental Remediation, may require a Phase 1 ESA be completed. All such ESAs shall be completed in accordance with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and site remediation criteria, as set out by provincial regulations. Whenever possible or appropriate, acquisition agreements may provide for the indemnification of the City of Ottawa by the vendor for environmental conditions.
First nations consultation
When acquiring or encumbering federal or provincial lands within the Algonquin Ontario Land Claim area, it is recognized that the federal and provincial governments have an obligation to consult with the First Nations. Further, the federal and provincial governments cannot delegate to the purchaser that obligation to consult. As the beneficiary of a (pending) land transfer and the party at risk, if consultation is absent or inadequate, the City will monitor the consultation process.
The City of Ottawa Official Plan provides the policy direction with respect to the acquisition of properties of heritage interest, through Sections 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124.
Consideration will also be given to the City’s Arts and Heritage Plan, which states, “Give priority to the adaptive re-use of City-owned Heritage Buildings, to meet the City’s accommodation needs before constructing or leasing new buildings.”
When acquiring real property that may have a heritage designation or historical value, a comprehensive analysis of that property shall be conducted involving REPDO and appropriate City departments. The analysis will include:
- Identification of the heritage designation or historical value of the real property
- Confirmation of the City of Ottawa program(s) to be implemented at this heritage property
- Identification of the heritage value of the real property
- Identification of the desired long-term use or protection of the real property
- Assessment of the impact of the operational costs of the real property on the City
- Development of an asset management plan, which forecasts the capital renewal and re-investment requirements, to preserve the heritage property.
Prior to the acquisition of a heritage property, REPDO requires confirmation that the client department and/or City Council have provided the funding and approval for the acquisition.
Ottawa green spaces and the greenspace network
The City of Ottawa may acquire real property to ensure the sustainability of its green space values, as outlined in Section 5.2.1 of the its Official Plan. Direction is provided through specific designations that currently mandate acquisition in Natural Environment Areas, Urban Natural Features and Major Open Space.
City Council approval is required for projects requiring acquisition of real property, including any limited interest therein except where the total cost of the acquisition does not exceed the threshold of delegated authority.
The Deputy City Manager, Planning and Infrastructure Portfolio, Director of Real Estate Partnerships and Development Office, Manager of Realty Services, Manager of Realty Initiatives and Development, and/or the Program Managers of REPDO, by way of a Delegated Authority Approval Report and in accordance with the provisions of the Delegation of Authority By-law 2009-231, as may be amended from time to time, have the authority to approve the acquisition of real property in accordance with the provisions of that By-law.
The client department is responsible for reviewing, in collaboration with REPDO through its Realty Services and Realty Initiatives and Development branches, the existing real property inventory and other acquisition initiatives, to determine if real property needs can be met through current inventory or initiatives, prior to the initiation of an acquisition. The client department is directly involved in the asset rationalization effort and confirms that the acquisition requirement satisfies its City-mandated program. The client department is responsible for carrying the Capital Budget in support of the real property acquisition and for notifying the Ward Councillor of any proposed acquisitions at the early initiation of the project process. REPDO will be responsible of notifying the Ward Councillor of any pending Council-approved or Delegated Authority Reports moving forward for approval.
Legal Services acts as legal counsel to departments and advises the City on real property transactions. The City Solicitor has authority to undertake all legal proceedings required to complete an acquisition transaction, including expropriation proceedings.
The Real Estate Partnerships and Development Office will monitor the application of this Policy to ensure that all policy requirements are met.
- Disposal of Real Property Policy
Legislative and administrative authorities
City of Ottawa Arts and Heritage Plan, 2003
City of Ottawa Arts and Heritage Plan, 5-year progress report, 2010 [ PDF - 2 MB ]
City of Ottawa Delegation of Authority By-law 2002-49
City of Ottawa Delegation of Authority By-law 2009-231
City of Ottawa Capital Budget
City of Ottawa 20/20 Official Plan, 2003
City of Ottawa Greenspace Master Plan, 2006
City of Ottawa Official Plan, 2007
City of Ottawa Real Property Disposal By-law 2002-38
City of Ottawa Act, 1999
Expropriations Act, 1990
Environmental Assessment Act, 1976
Heritage Act, 1975
Housing Development Act, 1990
Municipal Act, 2001
Municipal Tax Sales Act, 1984
Municipal Board Act, 1975
Planning Act, 1990
Appraisal – an estimate or opinion of value or the act or process of estimating value.
Asset Rationalization – a process to support decision-making related to the acquisition, remediation or disposal of real property, in a cost effective manner, while assuring that essential program and service delivery objectives are not compromised.
Capital Projects – have funding or budgets in place and are included in the City’s Capital Budget.
City Mandated Programs – support City of Ottawa initiatives, as reflected in the Ottawa Official Plan or Capital Program.
Client Department – a City department that is a client of REPDO and requires a real property for an approved program or project.
Council Approval Report – a report to Council recommending approval of an acquisition by the City of Ottawa.
Delegated Authority – authority to approve pursuant to the Delegation of Authority By-law 2009-231, as amended.
Delegated Authority Approval Report – a report to the Deputy City Manager, Planning and Infrastructure Portfolio, Director of REPDO, Manager of Realty Services, Manager of Realty Initiatives and Development, and/or the Program Managers of the REPDO office, recommending the approval of an acquisition of real property in accordance with the provisions of the Delegation of Authority By-law 2009-231, as amended from time to time.
Departmental Needs Assessment – a client department’s report documenting the need for and purpose of acquiring real property.
Expropriation – acquiring real property without the consent of the owner, by an expropriating authority in the exercise of its statutory powers.
Market Value – the amount that land and improvements might be expected to realize, if sold in the open market by a willing seller to a willing buyer.
Public–Private Partnerships (P3) – legal agreements between government and private sector entities, for the purpose of providing public infrastructure, community facilities and related municipal services.
Real Estate Professional – an individual or firm qualified to provide, in accordance with the City’s current standing offer(s), appraisal and/or real estate consulting services.
For more information on this Policy, contact:
Manager, Realty Services
Real Estate Partnerships and Development Office
Tel: 613-580-2424, ext. 21549