Approved By: City Council
Category: General Administration
Approval Date: April 3, 2007
Effective Date: April 3, 2007
Revision Date: October 29, 2019
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 outlined in Section 188.8.131.52: Acquisition and Holding of Land, of the City of Ottawa Official Plan (as amended and in force from time to time) and associated City 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 rights are acquired by the City of Ottawa and includes any right, interest or benefit in land, but is not limited to, fee simple acquisitions, easements, rights-of-way and other limited interests such as joint-use agreements, temporary working occupancies, 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 provide the City of Ottawa with the authority to acquire land:
- Municipal Act, 2001, s. 6
- 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, 1990, s. 22, 36, 37 and 45
The City’s Corporate Real Estate Office (CREO) 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 project charter or similar document such as a business case that sets out the justification and rationale for the proposed acquisition. All assessments shall be vetted through CREO, 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. Should it be determined that the client’s needs cannot be met through the existing inventory, CREO will initiate the acquisition.
City Council approval of a capital project requiring property interests 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 required.
A budget item must be approved for the program or project, including the costs of acquiring real property and operational budget impacts, both of which are to be provided by the client prior to CREO being engaged 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 General Manager of the client department.
Methods of acquisition
Negotiation is the preferred method of obtaining real property rights. Negotiation is a process by which the City and the property owner (Vendor) reach a mutually acceptable agreement which complies with the requirements of this Policy.
Expropriation through the statutory process required by the Expropriations Act will be used only where a negotiated acquisition or Section 30 Agreement is not reasonably possible. The City of Ottawa has the authority to expropriate land in accordance with the provisions of the Expropriations Act, R.S.O 1990 c. E26, as amended from time to time.
Where property has been acquired by expropriation, the City shall pay compensation, including Market Value for the expropriated property interest(s) and any other statutory entitlements required by the Expropriations Act, in an amount negotiated between the City and the expropriated party and approved by Council, delegated authority or in an amount ordered by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) following an arbitration pursuant to the Expropriations Act.
Where necessary, client departments shall allow for a minimum of 18 months lead time following finalization of detailed design in their project planning, in anticipation that real property acquisition by expropriation may be required.
Section 30 Agreements
Where project requirements must be met in a timely manner or where negotiation is unsuccessful or not possible, the voluntary acquisition of lands through the use of a Section 30 Agreement pursuant to the Expropriations Act may be considered.
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, locating a suitable client department for stewardship, 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 (ESA) will be required and if warranted a Phase II ESA. Any costs associated with the above will be borne by the donor or the client department.
Development approval process
The Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development 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 Committee or the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and City Council for approval.
When an acquisition is contemplated in support of a City initiative and it is deemed that an exchange of City-owned surplus real property is in the best interests of the City, negotiation and compensation shall be based on the market value of the respective real properties, pursuant to the Disposal of Real Property Policy.
Public–private partnerships (P3)
As per the Public-Private Partnerships Policy and Procedures, the City 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 or other uses.
All real property acquisitions shall be supported with a market value estimate or appraisal. Such a value estimate or 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. At least one appraisal must be undertaken by an independent real estate professional. Appraisal reports are to be based on the estimated “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 appraisal industry.
Acquisition at market value
Real property shall be acquired on the basis of market value, unless other considerations are included in the transaction and approved by City Council or its Delegated Authority.
Where there is a variance between the appraised value and the acquisition price that variance shall be explained in an approval report.
Administrative settlements can be used where the value of the acquisition does not exceed $500.
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 Environmental Remediation Unit’s records, a Historical Land Use Inventory (HLUI) search, a review of the City’s Drawing Information Centre on GeoOttawa for any relevant historical environmental reports, and a review of available aerial photographs to evaluate development history and property use in the area.
The acquisition of the fee simple interest of an entire parcel of land, Property Identification Number (PIN), shall require a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) unless sufficient, reliable and recent environmental information is available from the pre-screening to reasonably alleviate potential environmental liability associated with the property acquisition. The decision to waive a Phase I ESA will be authorized in writing by the Program Manager, Environmental Remediation, along with a summary of the information that was considered to support the decision.
Should the acquisition be of a lesser interest, the Program Manager, Environmental Remediation, may require a Phase 1 ESA be completed.
All such ESAs shall be completed in accordance with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or to the standard of Ontario Regulation 153/04, as amended, depending on the purpose of the acquisition.
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 a duty to consult with the First Nations. Further, the federal and provincial governments cannot delegate to the purchaser the 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 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11.
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 CREO 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; and
- 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, CREO 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 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 necessitating the 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 General Manager, Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development, Director of Corporate Real Estate Office, Manager of Realty Services, Manager of Realty Initiatives and Development, and/or the Program Managers of CREO, by way of a Delegated Authority Approval Report and in accordance with the provisions of the Delegation of Authority By-law 2019-280, 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 CREO 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. CREO will be responsible for notifying the Ward Councillor of any pending Council-approved or Delegated Authority Reports moving forward for approval of any acquisition.
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 Corporate Real Estate Office will monitor the application of this Policy to ensure that all policy requirements are met.
- Disposal of Real Property Policy
- Public-Private Partnerships Policy
- Public-Private Partnerships Procedures
- CREO Leasing Policy
Legislative and administrative authorities
City of Ottawa Arts and Heritage Plan, 2003
City of Ottawa Arts, Heritage and Culture Plan, Renewed Action Plan (2013-2018)
City of Ottawa Delegation of Authority By-law 2007, Revision 2013
City of Ottawa Delegation of Authority By-law 2018-397
City of Ottawa Capital Budget
City of Ottawa 20/20 Official Plan, 2003
City of Ottawa Green space Master Plan, 2006
City of Ottawa Official Plan, as amended from time to time
City of Ottawa Real Property Disposal Policy 2007, Revision 2014
City of Ottawa Act, 1999Expropriations Act, 1990
Environmental Assessment Act, 1990
Heritage Act, 1990
Housing Development Act, 1990
Municipal Act, 2001
Municipal Tax Sales Act, 1990
Local Planning Appeal Tribunal Act, 2017
Planning Act, 1990
Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M. 56
Administrative Settlement – In situations where minor property rights are required, an amount paid to the property owner in excess of the appraised value.
Appraisal – the act or process of developing an opinion of value (CUSPAP 2018).
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 CREO and requires an interest in 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 2018-397, as amended.
Delegated Authority Approval Report – a report to the General Manager, Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development, Director of CREO, Manager of Realty Services, Manager of Realty Initiatives and Development, and/or the Program Managers of the CREO office, recommending the approval of an acquisition of real property in accordance with the provisions of the Delegation of Authority By-law 2018-397, 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.
Fee Simple – An absolute ownership unencumbered by any other interest or estate subject only to the limitations imposed by governmental powers of taxation, expropriation, police power and escheat.
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.
Property Identification Number (PIN) - Every Ontario property has been assigned a unique 9-digit electronic identification number for unique numerical indexing of legal description-based property identification.
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.
Section 30 Agreement – an agreement between the City and the owner of a property, or a legal right or interest in property, which is made pursuant to the statutory authority of section 30 of the Expropriations Act, R.S.O. 1990 c. E.26, as amended from time to time, wherein the said owner consents to the acquisition of the subject property in exchange for a payment or other consideration to the said owner, and wherein said consideration is acknowledged to be without prejudice to an application by the said owner to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal for determination of the compensation (in whole or in part) to which the owner would be entitled by the Expropriations Act if the land had been expropriated, subject to any conditions agreed upon between the parties in the said agreement.
For more information on this Policy, contact:
Manager, Realty Services
Corporate Real Estate Office
Tel: 613-580-2424, ext. 21549