Surrey not Responsible for Tree Fallen on a Car Due to Policy Defence

A claim against the City of Surrey recently came before the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal for the relatively modest amount of $5,000, but the decision of the Tribunal is nevertheless illustrative of the power of the policy immunity defence for local governments facing claims of negligence. (more…)

Supreme Court of Canada Greenlights Appeal of Municipal Snow Clearing Case

On August 20, 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to hear a future appeal in the matter of Marchi v. City of Nelson.

This case arose from an incident in Nelson, BC in January 2015. The City was experiencing a heavy snowfall and on the early morning of January 5 sent out City crews to plow the main downtown area. The plowing created snowbanks along the curb and onto the sidewalk of the streets.  On January 6, 2015, Ms. Marchi parked her car along Baker Street in downtown Nelson and attempted to make her way to the sidewalk. Seeing no other convenient way of getting to the sidewalk, she attempted to walk over the snowbank left by the City’s work crews, which was approximately 2’ high, 2-3’ wide, and appeared to run the length of the block. As Ms. Marchi attempted to cross the snowbank, her right foot sunk deep into the snow and she suffered a serious injury to her leg. Ms. Marchi sued the City, alleging it was negligent in leaving the snowbanks along the road without spaces for pedestrians to cross from their car onto the sidewalk. (more…)

Won’t you be my neighbour?

The recent decision of Pellegrin v. Wheeldon, 2020 BCPC 143 reads as an “instructable” on neighbourly nuisances.  In Judge Catherine Crockett’s judgment she reviews a lengthy history of behaviour between neighbours that would make Mr. Rogers shudder. Judge Crockett uses this decision as an opportunity to give a lesson on the torts of nuisance and trespass, and the differences and similarities between these causes of actions. As most local governments have the power to regulate or prohibit nuisances by bylaw pursuant to sections 8(3)(h) and 64 of the Community Charter or Division 6 of Part 9 of the Local Government Act,  it is an interesting case to read for the sheer volume of different types of objectionable behaviour that are captured in the decision.

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Damages Claim Relating to a Zoning Error Dismissed for Failing to Establish a Private Law Duty of Care Where Only a Public Duty Existed

The BC Supreme Court recently dismissed an action brought against the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (the “RDOS”) by a land owner and developer seeking lost profits and other damages relating to the alleged frustration of his attempts to move forward with a planned large-scale development. Jeff Locke and Josh Krusell of Stewart McDannold Stuart successfully defended the RDOS in this proceeding. The developer’s claim largely related to the decision of the RDOS Board to down-zone the subject property after it was discovered that the property had been inadvertently up-zoned years earlier. (more…)

Court Finds that Zoning Bylaw is Consistent with Official Community Plan and Denies Challenge Brought by Community Association against High-density Development

The B.C. Supreme Court recently dismissed a judicial review petition challenging the validity of a Town of Gibsons zoning bylaw amendment on grounds that it conflicted with the Official Community Plan (OCP) by allowing for a new high-density residential development in Gibsons. (more…)

Court of Appeal weighs in on Application of Vavilov to Local Governments

Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada in the decision of Canada (Minister of Immigration) v Vavilov, 2019 SCC 65 (“Vavilov”), revised the test for determining the applicable standard of review in judicial review decisions. Following Vavilov, the default standard of review is reasonableness, subject to a few very specific exceptions. For a more detailed analysis of Vavilov see a summary of the decision previously published on our website here.

As most types of local government decisions do not fall into the limited exceptions, we have been waiting to see how the new judicial review test and framework will play out in the context of local government decisions. We recently provided analysis of a local government judicial review in the post-Vavilov world conducted by the BC Supreme Court, which can be found here. (more…)

Court Approval of Waiver of Liability Clauses Contained in Section 219 Covenants

Recently, in Nelson v British Columbia (Environment), 2020 BCSC 479 (“Nelson”), the BC Supreme Court examined and ultimately approved a broad exclusion of liability clause contained in a restrictive covenant registered on title to property pursuant to section 219 of the Land Title Act, RSBC 1996, c. 250 (the “LTA”).

Under the LTA, an Approving Officer may, as a condition of approving a subdivision, require that a restrictive covenant be registered on title to the lands being subdivided “if the approving officer considers that the land is, or could reasonably be expected to be, subject to flooding, erosion, land slip or avalanche”.  Under the LTA, such covenants may contain terms “of a negative or positive nature”.  The LTA also makes express provision for the inclusion of indemnity provisions whereby the subdividing party, and the successors in title to that party, may be obliged to indemnify the subdividing authority for matters addressed in the covenant. (more…)

Vavilov in Action: New Test and Framework for Standard of Review applied in Local Government Context

As addressed in a previous post, in December 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v. Vavilov, 2019 SCC 65 [Vavilov] which introduced a new test for the determination of the applicable standard of review of administrative decisions and revised the framework for conducting reasonableness review. (more…)

Always Doesn’t Mean Forever: Reasonableness Reigns Supreme in Vavilov

Twenty years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada declared in the case of Nanaimo (City) v. Rascal Trucking Ltd.1, that the question of whether a local government was acting within the scope of its authority should be determined on the standard of correctness. Subsequently, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that such a question “will always be reviewed on a standard of correctness”.2

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Societies and the Civil Resolution Tribunal

On July 15, 2019, sections of Bill 22, Civil Resolution Tribunal Amendment Act, British Columbia, 2018, c.17 came into force and amended the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act, SBC 2012, c.25 (the “CRTA“) and the Societies Act, SBC 2015, c.18 (the “Societies Act“). The amendments provide the Civil Resolution Tribunal (the “CRT“) with jurisdiction to resolve disputes over certain claims under the Societies Act.

Societies should be aware of these amendments because members may apply to the CRT in order to challenge a society’s interpretation or application of the Societies Act as well as certain actions, threatened actions or decisions of a society. Also, citizens may apply to the CRT in order to challenge a society’s decision or interpretation of provisions respecting access to records or financial statements.

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