Permit Pitfalls: Lessons for Local Governments from Vanderhaeghe

In the recent decision of Sunshine Coast (Regional District) v. Vanderhaeghe, 2024 BCCA 169 (“Vanderhaeghe”), a development permit issued based on a mistaken interpretation of a non-conforming use provision of the Local Government Act (the “LGA”) implicitly granted a homeowner a development variance permit.

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Marshall Putnam Joins Stewart McDannold Stuart

Marshall Putnam has joined SMS as a litigation associate. Prior to joining us, Marshall practiced in Kamloops, B.C. in the area of Charter litigation, constitutional challenges, and tortious claims. He recently earned his Master of Laws degree from University of Edinburgh after previously receiving his Juris Doctor degree from University of Calgary. We are excited to have Marshall join our team.

Matt McCarthy Joins Stewart McDannold Stuart

Matt McCarthy has joined SMS as a litigation associate. Prior to joining us Matt worked at a leading regional firm in its Calgary office. Matt received his Juris Doctor from the University of Alberta, and and has recently transferred to the B.C. Bar. We are excited to have Matt join our team.

BCSC Affirms: Good Faith Local Government Decisions to Not Enforce Bylaws Are Immune From Negligence Claims

In Fahr v Schnitzer Steel Canada Ltd., 2024 BCSC 296, the BC Supreme Court affirms that municipalities are not required to enforce bylaws so long as their decision to not undertake enforcement is done in good faith.This decision follows the Court’s prior decisions in Suncourt Homes (2019 BCSC 2258) and Lebourdais (2022 BCSC 281). Specifically, the Court endorsed the statement that “[m]unicipalities will be immune from liability if they contemplate [bylaw] enforcement in good faith, regardless whether action is ultimately taken.” (more…)

Kyle Falk-Varcoe Joins Stewart McDannold Stuart

Stewart McDannold Stuart is pleased to welcome our newest associate, Kyle Falk-Varcoe. Kyle is a graduate of the University of Victoria and was called to the bar in 2022 before working at a leading national firm in Vancouver. Kyle is relocating back to Vancouver Island and will be working with our solicitors group providing services to our local government clients.

Implications of R v. Greater Sudbury for Local Governments in BC

In the recent case of R. v. Greater Sudbury (City), 2023 SCC 28 (“Sudbury”), the Supreme Court of Canada expanded the legal duties and potential liability of “employers” under occupational health and safety (“OHS”) legislation to owners of construction projects.  As a decision of the highest court in Canada, Sudbury could have significant implications for local governments nationwide.  However, it is unlikely to impact local governments in British Columbia because of differences between Ontario’s and British Columbia’s OHS legislation. (more…)

Season’s Greetings from Stewart McDannold Stuart

A branch of rose hips covered in frost, backlit by the sun.From all the lawyers and support staff at Stewart McDannold Stuart, we wish you all the best for the holiday season and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Court of Appeal Upholds Ucluelet’s Decision to Downzone a Developer’s Lands

A recent decision of the BC Court of Appeal affirms a local government’s authority to act quickly and in good faith to forestall development via downzoning of lands, and it clarifies the doctrine of “commitment to use” in respect of claims of an owner that it has already established a lawful non-conforming use.

In Onni Wyndansea Holdings Ltd. v. Ucluelet (District), 2023 BCCA 342, the Court dismissed an appeal by a developer, Onni Wyndansea Holdings Ltd. (“Onni”), seeking to quash zoning bylaws made by The District of Uclulet (the “District”) which downzoned its property and impeded its development plans or, in the alternative, seeking a declaration that Onni had a lawful non-conforming use for the property which would cause any downzoning to be inapplicable to its plans.

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2023 LGMA Annual Conference

Ryan Bortolin, Jessica Eastwood and Jeff Locke will be presenting at the LGMA conference being held in Nanaimo from June 13 to June 15. Ryan and Jessica will be providing a legal update on June 15, and Jeff will also be presenting on June 15, on the topic “Supporting Your Decisions: Essentials and Strategies for Making and Preserving Local Government Decisions”.

Local Government Leadership Academy

On February 15, 2023 Ryan Bortolin will be presenting on “Local Government Law 101” at the Local Government Leadership Academy in Nanaimo BC.  The basis of his presentation will be the “Guide for Municipal Council Members and Regional District Directors in British Columbia”, a copy of which can be found here.