Reasonableness Review: A Case Study of Anderson v Strathcona Regional District

The BC Supreme Court has released reasons in Anderson v Strathcona Regional District, 2021 BCSC 1800 [Anderson] which provides an excellent example of the Court applying the reasonableness standard of review, as recently re-articulated by the Supreme Court of Canada in Vavilov, to decisions of a local government. (more…)

What the Supreme Court of Canada’s Decision in Nelson (City) v Marchi Means for Local Government Policy Development and the Policy Immunity Defence

This month the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) released its judgment in Nelson (City) v Marchi, 2021 SCC 4. The decision provides greater clarity on how to identify and assess “core policy decisions” of local governments. This is an important decision impacting on the availability of the “policy immunity defence”, of which all local governments in Canada should take notice.

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Recent Decisions from the Court of Appeal with Respect to Restrictive Covenants

The British Columbia Court of Appeal has issued two recent decisions which provide important insight into the ways local governments may utilize restrictive covenants to manage risk and regulate specific uses of land. (more…)

British Columbia Court of Appeal Rules Approving Officer Insulated from Negligence Claims

In Held v. Sechelt (District), 2021 BCCA 350 the British Columbia Court of Appeal affirmed that an approving officer could not be held personally liable in negligence while acting in the course of his duties related to the review, consideration and approval of a subdivision and development within a municipality. (more…)

Vancouver Councillor and Bar Owner Found Not to Have Conflict of Interest Relating to Vote on COVID-19 Measures Affecting Local Restaurants

A recent court decision confirms that the interest or bias that is required to prove an elected official has a conflict of interest is one that relates to the distinct interest of the elected official in the particular case and is not merely some financial interest possessed by that elected official that she or he shares with other fellow electors. (more…)

Cancellation of the COVID-19 State of Emergency – Transition from the COVID-19 Related Measures Act and the new Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act, 2021

As of the end of the day on June 30, 2021, the COVID-19 State of Emergency, as previously declared under the Emergency Program Act (British Columbia), was cancelled. The Province is now in a period of transition under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act, SBC 2020, c. 8. The COVID-19 Related Measures Act was adopted to enact as statute law various Ministerial Orders that had been made under the Emergency Program Act (“COVID-19 Orders”) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (more…)

Claiming Privilege Over Records of Closed Meetings of Council

In McGraw v. Southgate (Township), 2021 ONSC 2785 the Ontario Superior Court of Justice considered the appropriateness of disclosing a recording of a closed council meeting. The disclosure was sought in a wrongful dismissal suit brought by a former employee of the Township and the recording contained discussions related to the Township’s decision to terminate the Plaintiff’s employment. The Township opposed the disclosure of the recording on a number of grounds of privilege. The judge assessed the merits of each claim of privilege over the recording before ultimately ordering the disclosure of a part of the recording.

This decision is a good reminder to local governments that even discussions which occur during closed meetings may not remain confidential in all circumstances. As such, it is important to remain conscious that any recordings or notes of the closed meeting may one day be put before a Court. It is therefore prudent on local governments to maintain appropriate record-keeping practices in order to preserve as much confidentiality as possible. (more…)

Municipal Liability for Negligent Building Inspection and How to Manage Risk

A decision of the Ontario Superior Court from January 2021 highlights the serious financial risk to municipalities that regulate building construction and provides an opportunity for re-visiting best practices for managing such risk. (more…)

Court says Local Governments Cannot Regulate within the Province’s Exclusive Jurisdiction over Mining

In the recent decision of O.K. Industries Ltd. v District of Highlands, 2021 BCSC 81, the BC Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Province has exclusive jurisdiction over “mines” and “mining activities” as each are defined in the Mines Act, RSBC 1996, c. 293.

This decision is important for local governments as it confirms that in relation to mines, mining activities, and other associated and integral activities, including reclamation, a local government cannot exercise its authority over things such as land use, certain buildings, soil deposit and removal, trees, and blasting. (more…)

Snow and Ice Clearing Bylaws Do Not Make Adjacent Private Property Owners Liable to Slip-and-Fall Claimants but May Insulate Local Governments

Many local governments in B.C. have adopted bylaws that require property owners to clear snow and ice from the sidewalks adjacent to their properties. Questions have been raised whether the imposition of this responsibility in a bylaw also makes the property owner legally liable in negligence if a person were to be injured after slipping and falling on uncleared snow or ice on an adjacent sidewalk.

In Der v. Zhao, 2021 BCCA 82, the B.C. Court of Appeal recently conducted a thorough negligence analysis on this question and found that residential property owners do not owe a duty of care to pedestrians passing by on sidewalks adjacent to their properties that are owned by municipalities, even where a bylaw makes them responsible for snow and ice clearing. The Court found that the local government remains the “occupier” of the public sidewalk and that a breach of a bylaw requirement by the adjacent residential property owner does not give rise to the sufficient proximity required to establish a duty of care to persons passing on the sidewalk. (more…)