On November 19, 2020, pursuant to the province’s ongoing state of emergency relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the provincial government announced new province-wide restrictions by order of the Provincial Health Officer, many of which affect employers, including local governments.
COVID-19 Safety Plans:
Most notably, employers are being asked to review their COVID-19 Safety Plans. We wrote about the requirement for all employers to develop and implement a COVID-19 Safety Plan in a previous blog post. WorkSafeBC has now provided a guide for employers for reviewing and updating their COVID-19 Safety Plans. The restrictions also emphasize that an employer must ensure that a worker attending the employer’s work site has done a daily health check for symptoms of COVID-19. (more…)
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…)
Kathryn Stuart will be attending the LGMA Corporate Officers Forum. On October 8th, she will be presenting a session on Ethics and the Law.
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…)
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.
In the context of the novel coronavirus, employers in British Columbia, including local governments, have been increasingly faced with difficult decisions relating to contracts of employment. Employers are contending with the need to balance their obligations towards employees with the practical and financial realities of maintaining operations. In the present circumstances, employers are therefore increasingly resorting to layoffs as a means of attenuating the financial and operational impact of COVID-19. (more…)
On June 17, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued a new order under the Emergency Program Act relating to local government meetings and timing requirements for bylaw passage, with the intent of moving local governments toward more normal operations.
Ministerial Order 192 (which can be found here) repeals and replaces MO139. While still permitting flexible conduct of local government business in light of COVID-19, such as conducting public hearings and Council or Board meetings electronically where necessary, MO192 requires local governments to commence more normal operations by making “best efforts” to allow members of the public to attend open meetings of the local government. (more…)
Worker safety has been at the forefront of the operational concerns raised by employers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the province implements its Return Plan and workplaces, including local governments, cautiously reopen their doors, there is an urgent public health interest in preventing the spread of coronavirus. To this end, WorkSafeBC has released guidelines relating to COVID-19 and Returning to Safe Operation – Phase 2 in order to help employers navigate their heightened obligations to employees. In addition, WorkSafeBC has now required all employers to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan which outlines the policies, guidelines and procedures the employer has put in place in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. (more…)
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…)
On May 15, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued a new order under the Emergency Program Act that relates to local government financial matters affected by COVID-19.
Borrowing from Reserve Funds
The order states that municipalities, regional districts, improvement districts, and other specified bodies may, during the 2020 calendar year, borrow from reserve funds, on certain conditions. The money borrowed must be used for operational shortfalls during 2020, and must be repaid to the applicable fund by the end of 2025. No interest need be charged. If money remains outstanding at the end of 2025, that money must be added to the 2026 financial plan, budget or estimate, as applicable, as a cash transfer to reserves, plus a penalty equal to 5% of the outstanding amount. (more…)