Metrolinx recently placed a notice of expropriation in a local newspaper, which is normally a last resort when the owners can't be located. The commercial property at 1565 Eglinton Ave. W., near Dufferin Street, is near the construction site for the Oakwood station of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.
The owners of the building, which is home to a barber shop, are listed as Oswald and Maureen Young. Oswald has died, but Maureen is alive and living with her son, Ian, who said he has never heard from Metrolinx.
"It's quite shocking actually," Young said. He heard about the expropriation when a CBC news reporter reached out to him.
"If CBC can get in touch with me ... [Metrolinx is] a lot bigger than the CBC, so they should have no problem getting in touch with me."
Toronto lawyer Stephen D'Agostino said he finds the case unusual.
"In a situation where you're dealing with a piece of land, for example, where the owner has moved away, where there's been neglect of the property, that sort of thing you might expect a newspaper notice," D'Agostino said. "But not when there's an active business on on the property."
A spokesperson for Metrolinx said several attempts were made to contact the owner by registered mail, but the letters were returned. A judge can still move the date of expropriation, and Young has hired a lawyer.
Metrolinx's ad states the agency requires possession by August 17, but doesn't say what the property will be used for.
Barbershop's future unclear
A barbershop employee said he was told only the sidewalk would be affected during the construction.
"If the sidewalk is obstructed where you can see whether or not this business is in operation, it will be very hard for us to generate any revenue from people walking in from the street," said Dail Polius.
The chair of the Business Improvement Area said he isn't surprised there's confusion and that Metrolinx needs to do a better job of communicating its plans with the local community.
"We continue to ask what information we can get to better understand what potential future impact there's going to be," said Nick Alampi, chair of the Eglinton-York BIA.
"It's not being given to us as quickly as we would like, so we can know what the next three, four, six months are going to be like."