Local Governments, Administrative Tribunals, and the Ongoing Dispute Over the Trans Mountain Pipeline

Administrative tribunals are decision-making bodies that are part of the system of justice in Canada, and the decisions they make can have significant impacts on local governments. The British Columbia Court of Appeal’s recent ruling, Burnaby (City) v Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC, 2017 BCCA 132, confirms that, when interpreting and applying their enabling statutes, certain administrative tribunals can make orders that, in effect, prevent local governments from enforcing their own bylaws. (more…)

Storefront Marihuana Dispensaries: Failed Constitutional Challenge

In the case of Abbotsford (City) v. Mary Jane’s Glass & Gifts Ltd., the Supreme Court of British Columbia granted two declarations sought by the City of Abbotsford, and ruled that the operators of Mary Jane’s Glass & Gifts Ltd. were in breach of the City of Abbotsford’s Business License Bylaw and Zoning Bylaw.

Further, the Court found that the City’s Business License and Zoning Bylaws are constitutionally valid and do not unjustly infringe Section 7 (life, liberty and security of person) or Section 15 (equality rights) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The decision in this case is not surprising.  It confirms the basic assumption that storefronts selling marihuana for any purpose are illegal.  The federal laws in place related to access to marihuana for medical purposes do not authorize retail marihuana dispensaries. (more…)

Math and Materiality: Challenging Election Results – Duperron v. School District No. 53 (Okanagan Similkameen)

In reasons released January 5, 2017, Justice Rogers of the BC Supreme Court found that a failure by a School District to hold a second advance poll in a school trustee by-election did not materially affect the outcome of the election. (more…)

Navigating the Constitution: Shipping, Navigation and the Right to Moorage

The lakes, rivers and ocean shores of British Columbia are undoubtedly beautiful but the complex regulatory and legal regime that governs these bodies of water can create real uncertainty for local governments seeking to understand the extent to which they may exercise their zoning powers over land covered by water and structures erected within water. (more…)

No “Grandfathering” Out of Requirement for Development Permit

In a recent decision, the BC Supreme Court confirmed that on-going development projects commenced before the enactment of an Official Community Plan are not exempt from the requirements of that OCP, nor will they be protected by the  “legal non-conforming” provisions of the Local Government Act.

The case of Columbia Shuswap (Regional District) v Darnell, 2016 BCSC 1674 (“Darnell”) concerns the developer of a lakefront property. In 2005, the developer undertook a project to restore a field on the property, which entailed placing large amounts of fill within 30 meters of the lake. (more…)

Societies Act

Local governments that are involved in or have incorporated societies should be aware that the new Societies Act, SBC 2015, c. 18 comes into force on November 28, 2016. The new Act modernizes how societies are established and governed, bringing them more closely into line with for-profit business corporations. (more…)

The Annual Tax Sale Approaches!

In September 2015 we posted a summary of the tax sale provisions of the Local Government Act. Because of the coming into force of the revised Local Government Act earlier this year, we are reproducing that article in full, with the section references updated to the Local Government Act, S.B.C. 2015, c. 1. 

The tax sale provisions of Part 16, Division 7 of the Local Government Act (“LGA”) provide municipalities with the ultimate property tax collection tool – a forced sale of the property that is subject to tax. As the saying goes, you can’t fight City Hall! (more…)

New Building Act Regulations Shed Further Light on Legislative Scheme

This past June, the provincial government enacted the Building Act General Regulation, B.C. Reg. 131/2016 (the “Building Act Regulation”), providing some clarity with respect to two important elements of the new Building Act, S.B.C. 2015, c.2 (the “Building Act”). (more…)

BC Supreme Court Puts the Kibosh on Marihuana Dispensary

Although the federal government is studying the legalization of marihuana, with the announced intention of introducing legislation sometime in 2017, the sale of cannabis products outside of the framework provided through the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations remains illegal under Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Even so, storefront cannabis dispensaries continue to pop up in communities across Canada, and the criminal justice system seems ill equipped to do much about it.  As a result, some municipalities such as the City of Vancouver are taking the extraordinary step of actually regulating these illegal cannabis dispensaries. (more…)

The Federal Government Announces the Replacement of the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations

On August 24, 2016, the federal government repealed the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) and replaced them with a new set of regulations entitled the “Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations” (ACMPR).  The MMPR allowed for the issuance of federal licences permitting the commercial production and distribution of marihuana for medical purposes.  It replaced a previous set of regulations known as the Medical Marihuana Access Regulations (MMAR) which permitted individuals with a prescription for medical marihuana to obtain a licence to grow their own marihuana through a personal production licence, or to designate a third party to grow it on their behalf through a designated person production licence.  The intention of the MMPR was to put an end to this system and replace it with a system where marihuana could only be obtained from federally licensed commercial suppliers.  (more…)