The court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim for damages, which rested on an alleged breach of the principles of natural justice, arising because the defendant village had effected a cleanup of the plaintiff’s property

24. August 2010 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Municipal councils – Municipalities – Unsightly premises – Orders – Judicial review – Compliance with legislation – Natural justice – Notice – Procedural requirements and fairness – Damages

Antonenko v. White Fox (Village), [2010] S.J. No. 342, 2010 SKQB 213, Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench, June 16, 2010, Y.G.K. Wilkinson J..

Pursuant to the Urban Municipalities Act, a municipality has the statutory authority to order that untidy or unsightly premises be remediated within 10 days of an order served on the owner. Commencing in 2003, the plaintiff was made aware of complaints regarding his property. On December 18, 2003, the defendant Village of White Fox passed a resolution under s. 132 of the Act to order the plaintiff to remove junked vehicles from his property by January 5, 2004. Over the course of the following year, the Village made numerous attempts to encourage the plaintiff to comply with its order and effect a cleanup of his property. On July 7, 2004 formal orders were made by the Village pursuant to the Act declaring the premises unsightly and ordering the removal of junked vehicles. The plaintiff attended at a council meeting on July 22, 2004 where he made representations before City Council. Finally, on September 27 and October 4, 2004, cleanup was effected by the Village’s contractors.

The plaintiff argued that because he appeared at the July 22, 2004 Village council meeting, he was entitled to additional notice before the Village proceeded to effect cleanup of his premises, and because he received no notice there was a denial of natural justice.

The court noted that when a municipal council acts in a judicial or quasi-judicial capacity, it must afford procedural fairness or natural justice to effected persons, and this includes timely notice of the contemplated decision. However, subject to any statutory requirement to the contrary, a municipal council is not required to notify or grant a hearing to persons who may be affected by council’s exercise of its legislative powers. In this case, the Act contains its owns statutory notice requirements and these were fully met by the Village. There was nothing unfair or unreasonable about the Village’s decision to proceed with the cleanup.

Additionally, the court noted that the law is unclear as to whether a person can claim damages for breach of a duty of fairness, and that damages may not flow from such a breach. The court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim for damages based on breach of natural justice.

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