Administrative law – Decisions reviewed – Assessment Review Board – Equity – Judicial review – Standard of review – Reasonableness – Condominiums
University of Alberta v. Edmonton (City),  A.J. No. 1089, 2022 ABCA 290, Alberta Court of Appeal, September 13, 2022, T.W. Wakeling, J. Antonio and L.B. Ho JJ.A.
The petitioner is an owner of a property that consists of three multi-unit high-rise apartment buildings. The appellant brought an appeal from the lower Court’s decision that upheld a decision of the City of Edmonton Composite Assessment Review Board. The appellant argued that the Board erred in concluding that a 20 percent downward adjustment (the Rental Ownership Factor) that is applied to certain condominium rental properties should not be applied to its property.
The judicial review judge applied the reasonableness standard and held that Calgary (City) v. Lougheed & Co., 2001 ABQB 371, aff’d 2003 ABCA 232, was directly relevant to this dispute. According to the judicial review judge, Lougheed stood for the proposition that properties “may be considered dissimilar due to legislative provisions about the legal ownership of the property and specific assessment requirements to the condominiums.” The judicial review judge held that the Board issued “a reasonable decision based on an internally coherent and rational chain of analysis that is justified by the facts and law before it”. The judicial review judge denied judicial review.
The appellant submitted that the judicial review judge erred by concluding that the Board issued a reasonable decision as it relates to the Rental Ownership Factor and erred by upholding the Board’s decision because it failed to provide sufficient reasons. The appellant argued that Lougheed did not address the issue of assessment equity; it only dealt with the method of assessment to be applied to assess condominiums.
On appeal of a judicial review of an administrative decision, the Court’s role is to determine whether the reviewing judge identified and applied the correct standard of review and, if not, to assess the administrator’s decision in light of the correct standard.
The Court of Appeal agreed that Lougheed does not directly address the concepts of similarity and equity; however, it is relevant to the determination of this appeal to the extent that it confirms that the method of assessment employed for condominiums must follow the statutorily prescribed requirements. The Court assessed the Board’s decision, observing that it addressed and explained the appellant’s argument regarding the Rental Ownership Factor deduction and why it considered apartment buildings and rental condominiums to be dissimilar to the point where they could not be used as comparables for one another. The Court held that the Board’s decision was reasonable and should not be assessed against a standard of perfection. The Court dismissed both grounds of appeal.
This case was digested by Jackson Doyle, and first published in the LexisNexis® Harper Grey Administrative Law Netletter and the Harper Grey Administrative Law Newsletter. If you would like to discuss this case further, please contact Jackson Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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