No Defamation Remedy for Local Government

The law of defamation has recently changed for local government in British Columbia.

In 1975, the British Columbia Court of Appeal in the City of Prince George v. British Columbia Television Systems Ltd. held that local government could bring an action for defamation. The Court held that since every incorporated municipality has all the rights and liabilities of a corporation and because a corporation had a right of action in defamation that a municipal corporation had the same right. In response to concerns about protecting freedom of speech, the Court of Appeal stated: (more…)

On the Waterfront – Two Recent Cases Examine the Authority to Regulate the Marine Environment

The British Columbia courts have recently released two important decisions relating to the constitutional authority of governments to regulate the marine environment. In one of them, Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee v. B&B Ganges Marina Ltd., 2008 BCCA 544 (“B&B Ganges”), the Court of Appeal examined a local government’s authority to regulate a floating structure under its zoning bylaw. In the other, Morton v. British Columbia (Minister of Agriculture and Lands), 2009 BCSC 136 (“Morton”), the B.C. Supreme Court examined the province’s authority to regulate fish farming through its aquaculture regulations. In each case, the court was faced with the question of whether the challenged regulations intruded into an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction, a finding that would render those regulations invalid. (more…)

The Summer of Discontent: The 2009 Major Industry Tax Revolt

In the midst of the global recession, which has severely affected the British Columbia economy generally and the economies of resource communities in particular, several communities across British Columbia are facing an unprecedented tax revolt by major industry.

In Campbell River, North Cowichan, Port Alberni and Powell River proceedings have been commenced in British Columbia Supreme Court by Catalyst Paper Corporation seeking to set aside the Tax Rates Bylaw in each of those communities, and, pending the decision by the Court, Catalyst has only paid a portion of its municipal taxes. (more…)

Tips for Preparing and Registering Section 219 Covenants

Section 219 Covenants are without a doubt a very useful part of the local government toolbox in British Columbia. The history and purpose of the Section 219 Covenant is too vast a subject for a brief article such as this one. It is enough to say that a Section 219 Covenant is an agreement between a local government and the owner of land, in which the owner’s rights to use, build on or subdivide the land are limited in furtherance of some public purpose. However, it’s not just the “big picture stuff” that is important. With Section 219 Covenants, as with anything, the devil has an alarming propensity to appear in the details. This article presents a handful of practical tips to help avoid unwanted snags. (more…)

Damages for Digging

The Facts of the Case

In Heyes v. Vancouver, TransLink, Canada Rapid Line Transit Inc. and Transit B.C. Limited Partnership the defendants, TransLink, Canada Rapid Line Transit Inc. and Transit B.C. Limited Partnership were found liable in nuisance for the damages to the business operated by the plaintiff caused by the massive disruption of switching from the bore hole approach to the “cut and cover” approach in building the Skytrain (Canada Line) to the Vancouver Airport. (more…)

Awarding Costs in Public Interest Cases

The issue in Vancouver (City) v. Zhang, 2009 BCSC 614, was whether costs should be awarded against an unsuccessful party alleging a breach of the party’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms where that party’s interest coincides with the public interest. (more…)

The OCP Trump Card: By Appeasing Popular Opinion Council Oversteps its Jurisdiction

It is a problem often shared by local governments: letters to the editor start pouring into the local newspaper from citizens concerned about a new condo development. The complaints are commonplace, but usually revolve around the proposed new building somehow not fitting into the community. The trouble is that the condo developer has met the requirements of all of the applicable bylaws. No variances are required, or only minor ones are at stake. The local government wishes to be accountable to its constituents, but senses its hands are tied. In situations where a proposed real-estate project requires a development permit by virtue of an official community plan (“OCP”), it can be tempting for the local government to attempt to decline the development permit for the very reasons that have pitted the community against the project. (more…)

Court Rejects Major Industry Tax Challenge

As reported in the Summer 2009 issue of Logo Notebook, several major industrial companies launched legal proceedings challenging the extent of local government taxation on major industrial properties.

On October 16, 2009, the British Columbia Supreme Court dismissed the challenge brought by Catalyst Paper Corporation against the District of North Cowichan. (more…)

Selling Land for Local Governments – Part 1

Local governments in British Columbia have greater freedom than ever before to sell real property. Gone are the days when it was necessary for Council or the Board to pass a bylaw declaring land surplus. Under the Community Charter and the Local Government Act, a local government requires only a resolution to proceed with the disposal of land, including land with improvements, as long as the land is not dedicated property such as a park or highway, in which case special procedures are required. However, even in the case of non-dedicated land there are certain statutory notice requirements that must be fulfilled, and there are numerous considerations of a more commercial nature that should be kept in mind during the process. (more…)

Derelict and Abandoned Manufactured Homes

With building bylaws demanding increasingly strict construction standards, today’s manufactured homes are being built to stand the test of time, much like conventional houses. Unfortunately, neglect and British Columbia’s climatic conditions are turning existing holiday ramblers into ramshackle structures. Since older manufactured homes have tended to decrease in value as they age and fall into disrepair, their abandonment can be an appealing option to owners. The owner simply ceases paying rent on their manufactured home pad to the park landlord, and moves onto greener pastures. (more…)