Park Dedication or Cash in Lieu – Whose choice is it?

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has recently ruled that there is a relatively low threshold for determining whether a local government has the choice, under section 941(2) of the Local Government Act, of requiring dedication of park land, or payment of cash in lieu, at the time of subdivision. In Basin Construction Ltd. v. Columbia Shuswap Regional District, a decision released February 8, 2011, the court suggested that the property owner will have the option of choosing dedication of land or payment of money only where the local government has failed to consider parks in its official community plan. (more…)

Allegation That Municipal Official Authorized Unlawful Use is No Defence to Zoning Bylaw Enforcement

The British Columbia Supreme Court recently reconfirmed that local government enforcement of zoning bylaws cannot be curtailed in circumstances where unlawful use might have been authorized by a municipal official and was, at the very least, known to the municipality at the time the unlawful use commenced. (more…)

Court of Appeal Creates a Stricter Standard for Bias In Remedial Action Case

In McLaren v. Castlegar (City), 2011 BCCA 134, the British Columbia Court of Appeal has confirmed that a stricter standard for reasonable apprehension of bias exists when a municipal Council is engaged in an adjudicative function.

The case involved a Council resolution under the remedial action sections of the Community Charter. After holding a hearing, the Council required a building owner to remove buildings from her land because they were hazardous, unsafe, and a nuisance. (more…)

Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Use of Public Parks – The Battle Shifts to Alberta

In the recent decision of the Alberta Court of Queens Bench, R. v. Pawlowski, 2011 ABQB 93, an Alberta Justice sitting on appeal of acquittals on a bylaw prosecution for operating an amplification system in a public park, dismissed an appeal of a conviction under two Calgary bylaws. The appeal Judge found that the bylaw provisions were not invalid under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as an infringement of the freedom of expression protected under section 2:

  1. freedom of conscience and religion; and
  2. freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.

(more…)

Judge Orders Substantial Fines For First-Time Tree-Cutting Offender

On April 27, 2011, the Honourable Judge Gould of the BC Provincial Court ordered a man who cut down ten trees without permits, to pay the full minimum fine under the City of Nanaimo’s Tree Protection Bylaw for each tree cut.  This amounted to $9,000.00.  The defendant had cut down trees on his own family’s property, for development purposes, and also on a client’s property.  It was the first time Nanaimo had summoned the defendant before the Court for this type of offence. (more…)

Proactive Disclosure of Records

Over the past several years Privacy Commissioners across Canada have been recommending that public bodies subject to Freedom of Information legislation, which includes local governments, adopt a system of proactive disclosure.  The impetus behind the recommendation is to promote open government and, in part, the inability of some public bodies to meet the timelines required for disclosure under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the “Act”). (more…)

Ending an Employment Relationship With a Problem Employee

Municipal and regional district employees are often the public’s first and only personal point of contact with their local government.  These interactions are important as they have an impact on the reputation and accountability of elected officials and local government staff.  Like any employer, local governments are not legally required to tolerate a problem employee in the workplace indefinitely. (more…)

Land Title Office Institutes Mandatory Electronic Filing – What Local Governments Need to Know

Electronic Filing – What Is It? How Does It Work?

Since 2004, the B.C. Land Title and Survey Authority (the “LTSA”) has been implementing and refining the Electronic Filing System (“EFS”). As the name suggests, EFS provides the means for land title documents and survey plans to be filed in the Land Title Office electronically, rather than in paper format. At the beginning, EFS was limited to simpler documents, such as the Form A Freehold Transfer, but recently its scope has expanded to include the full range of documents and plans. (more…)

Consistency Between an Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw

On April 18, 2011, the BC Supreme Court delivered its reasons for judgment in Residents and Ratepayers of Central Saanich Society v. Central Saanich (District). This decision builds on the existing case law that addresses the issue of consistency between official community plans (OCP) and zoning bylaws. Section 884(2) of the Local Government Act requires that all bylaws adopted after the OCP must be consistent with that plan. (more…)

May 2011 – Bylaw Ban on Puppy Sales Upheld

The Supreme Court of BC has upheld a City of Richmond bylaw that bans the sale of dogs and puppies from pet stores.

In International Bio Research v. Richmond (City), 2011 BCSC 471, three pet stores challenged the validity of the bylaw on various grounds including that it was ultra vires, that it was unreasonable and discriminatory, and that it was passed in bad faith. The bylaw added “puppies and dogs” to a list of canidae that pet stores were prohibited from selling. The sale of dogs by dog breeders and commercial kennels was not affected by the bylaw. (more…)