A demolition order issued by a Regional Municipality pursuant to the Municipalities Act is overturned as unreasonable

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Municipal councils – Municipalities – By-laws – Unsightly premises – Demolition orders – Validity – Judicial review – Legislative compliance – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter

Beaudin v. Vanscoy (Regional Municipality No. 345), [2011] S.J. No. 97, 2011 SKQB 75, Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench, February 14, 2011, M.D. Acton J.

Between 2007 and mid-2009, a number of complaints were received by the respondent, the Regional Municipality, about the state of the property owned by the appellants, the Beaudins. On November 17, 2008, the appellants received an order from the Regional Municipality which indicated that they were in contravention of a nuisance abatement bylaw and required to take measures to address the contraventions. The appellants agreed to undertake certain work by the end of June 2009. The promised repairs were not completed and the Regional Municipality continued to receive complaints. On September 24, 2009 the appellants were served with a order that required the demolition of their house and clean-up of the site.

The appellants appealed the order of September 24, 2009 to the Regional Municipality’s Council, which was denied. The appellants appealed the decision of the Regional Municipality’s Council to the court and this appeal was heard by Koch J. of the Queen’s Bench and denied. Subsequent to the decision of Koch J., the parties entered into an agreement which provided that the appellants would perform the necessary repairs if the Regional Municipality refrained from carrying out the demolition order. The appellants thereafter attempted to comply with directions from the Regional Municipality but were unable to meet all of its demands. In particular, the appellants were unable to provide the Regional Municipality with a deposit of $60,000. The Regional Municipality issued a second demolition order and, pursuant to the applicable provisions of the Municipalities Act, the appellants filed an appeal of the second order.

The court held that the proper standard of review was reasonableness, and that the question before the court was whether or not the actions undertaken by the Regional Municipality since the order of Koch J. were reasonable and fell within the range of possibly acceptable actions based on the specific facts and the legislative framework. The court concluded that the Regional Municipality could have acted on the demolition order after the decision of Koch J. without further negotiations. However, because the Regional Municipality had entered into negotiations and agreements which led the appellants to believe that they could avoid the demolition of their property, and there had been attempts at compliance, it would now be unreasonable to allow the Regional Municipality to act on the demolition order. The court held that it had been particularly unreasonable of the Regional Municipality to demand a $60,000 deposit from the appellants. The court concluded that should the Regional Municipality wish to proceed to require demolition, it must issue new notices to remedy setting forth the specific structural repairs required and permit the appellants the opportunity to comply.

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