Collecting Debts as Unpaid Property Taxes – Know Your Limit, Play Within It

As many local governments know, the treatment of fees, charges, expenses and other amounts due and owing to a municipality or regional district can, in some circumstances, be treated and collected in the same manner and with the same remedies as property taxes; if the amount owing remains unpaid on December 31st of the year it falls due, it may be deemed to be taxes in arrear and collected as such. While this represents one of the more effective enforcement measures in a local government’s quiver of remedies, there are limitations and procedures that must be observed. (more…)

Selling Land for Local Governments – Part 2

Part 1 of this article, which appeared in the Fall 2009 issue of LoGo Notebook, dealt with several general issues of concern to local governments that sell land. Part 2 focuses on the actual agreement of purchase and sale, including some issues specific to situations where the local government is the seller. (more…)

Approving Officer Appeals Avoid the Dunsmuir Bullet

In 1976 in City of Vancouver v. Simpson, the Supreme Court of Canada settled the law relating to appeals from decisions of subdivision approving officers under section 89 of the Land Title Act. The Court limited the grounds for appealing those decisions to three grounds, namely, was the decision made

1. in bad faith,
2. with an intention to discriminate against the property owner, and
3. on a specious and totally inadequate factual basis? (more…)

Court of Appeal Rejects Major Industry Tax Challenge

As reported in Fall LoGo 2009, Catalyst Paper Corporation appealed to the British Columbia Court of Appeal from the dismissal by the Supreme Court of British Columbia of Catalyst’s four court challenges to the major industry tax rates in the District of North Cowichan, the City of Campbell River, the City of Port Alberni and the City of Powell River. (more…)

Local Government Successful in First Heritage Designation Compensation Arbitration

On February 3, 2010, the arbitrator in Rogers’ Chocolates Ltd. v. City of Victoria, handed down the first arbitration decision awarding compensation under section 969 of the Local Government Act as a result of a heritage designation bylaw.

Rogers’ Chocolates Ltd. owns an old building at 913 Government Street in Victoria. It has done so since early in the last century.

In 1975, the City designated the outside of the original building at 913 Government Street as heritage property. In response to Rogers’ expressed desire to expand the retail interior, the City adopted a heritage designation bylaw on February 12, 2009 designating the shop’s interior. (more…)

Court Upholds Ban on Raw Milk

On March 18, 2010, the British Columbia Supreme Court gave its decision in Fraser Health Authority v Jongerden and upheld the ban on the distribution of raw milk in British Columbia. The court granted the injunction sought by the Fraser Health Authority prohibiting individuals from packaging and/or distributing raw milk and/or raw milk products for human consumption.

The Respondents in this case participated in a “cow share” arrangement where shareholders were entitled to receive raw milk and raw milk products under the brand name of “Home on the Range”. The packaging was specifically marked “Not for Sale” in order for the public to understand that the raw milk and raw milk products were available only to the members of the cow share. (more…)

Service Withdrawal Arbitrations

On February 8, 2010 an arbitrator’s decision determined the extent of the jurisdiction of a service withdrawal arbitration under section 813.13 of the Local Government Act in City of Vernon v. Regional District of North Okanagan and District of Coldstream.

In this case, the City of Vernon had requested a partial withdrawal from the Greater Vernon Water Service, namely withdrawal from the distribution component only of the service. The Minister directed that this partial withdrawal request be dealt with through a binding arbitration process. The question arose whether or not the Local Government Act authorized a partial service withdrawal. After hearing argument on this question of jurisdiction, the arbitrator held that it did not. (more…)

Responding to Due Diligence Letters from a Purchaser’s Lawyer

In the Spring 2005 issue of this newsletter, we cautioned against providing “approval in principle” comfort letters to developers seeking to market early under the Real Estate Development and Marketing Act. In the same vein, but of more frequency and concern, are property information/zoning confirmation requests from the lawyers acting for purchasers of property. These ask for factual and legal opinions that far exceed the information a local government is obliged to provide under its governing legislation. If answered, the response can expose the local government to significant legal risk and potential liability. (more…)

Federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes Be Reasonable

In the recent case of Montreal (City) v. Montreal Port Authority, 2010 SCC 14, the Supreme Court of Canada set down some guidelines for the application of federal legislation concerning payments in lieu of taxes (“PILTs”) by the federal Crown and federal Crown corporations. Such payments are governed by the Payments in Lieu of Taxes Act (the “PILT Act”) and the Crown Corporation Payments Regulations (the “Regulations”). (more…)

Reserve Land – Tenures Available to Local Governments

Every so often, a local government may require an interest in a First Nation’s reserve lands, be it for highway/road access purposes, or to construct and operate a sewer or water line or outfall. This article identifies the interests that are available to local governments under the Indian Act on reserve lands of a First Nation that has not adopted a Land Code under the First Nations Land Management Act (“FNLMA”). This article does not address interests on reserve lands that are subject to a Land Code. The nuances under the Land Code regime will be the subject of a future article. The main difference between the two regimes is that under the FNLMA the local government deals with the First Nation directly whereas Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (“INAC”) acts on behalf of the First Nation in respect of interests granted on a reserve that is not subject to a Land Code. In addition, this article does not deal with interests granted by First Nation members that hold a certificate of possession on a reserve. (more…)