The appeal by Hastings Park Conservancy (“HPC”) from the dismissal of its petition for judicial review of a zoning by-law regarding the installation of slot machines at Hastings Race Course was dismissed

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Municipal councils – Jurisdiction – Municipalities – Planning and zoning – Park land – By-laws – Judicial review – Procedural requirements and fairness – Standard of review – Correctness

Hastings Park Conservancy v. Vancouver (City), [2008] B.C.J. No. 487, British Columbia Court of Appeal, March 20, 2008, P.A. Kirkpatrick, E.C. Chiasson and D.F. Tysoe

The Vancouver City Council passed a zoning by-law amendment allowing the installation of slot machines at Hastings Race Course. HPC argued that the Council did not have jurisdiction to zone or re-zone park land or to enter into a lease or licensing agreement with respect to Hastings Park. At the hearing of the petition, the chambers judge held that the Council had the ability to make zoning by-laws in respect of park land and that there had been no breach by the City of the obligation of procedural fairness. The Council did not improperly delegate its decision-making authority and did not improperly fetter its discretion in approving the re-zoning application in principle. HPC appealed the dismissal of its petition for judicial review.

The Court of Appeal determined that the standard of review with respect to the Council’s jurisdiction to make by-laws was correctness. The Council was only required to approve a change in the form of development and had properly left other development issues to the Development Permit Board. The discretion of future Councils to approve or not approve the entire development could not have been fettered by the resolution because future Councils were not required to approve all aspects of the development. There was no commitment, binding on future Councils, that the zoning by-law would be enacted or that the development to be proposed by the race track operator would be approved. The notice of the meeting and agenda package available at the meeting were sufficient to give adequate notice of, and information about, the proposed change of zoning. It was not demonstrated by HPC that the duty of procedural fairness required the City to hold a further public hearing.

The Court of Appeal held that the zoning by-law was valid as an authorization under section 2(1) of the Pacific National Exhibition Enabling and Validating Act for the race track operator to use slot machines at Hastings Park. The Court of Appeal also held that the City had authority to enter into the operating agreement with the race track operator.

In the result, HPC’s appeal was dismissed.

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