Milne v. Capital Regional District, concerns defamation by a local government. The case is unusual in that the alleged defamation arises from comments related to a public hearing posted on a local government website. The case seems to be somewhat of a stretch, the defamation if it is that, likely being subject to some form of qualified privilege. Having said that, it does lay out a framework for defamation in this context.
Community Association of New Yaletown v. Vancouver City, is a great case if you are a municipality. A three member panel of the BC Court of Appeal has spoken in the clearest terms possible and had the following to say:
“ When the City is considering rezoning a property, local residents have two important rights. They have the right to be given information sufficient to enable them to come to an informed, thoughtful and rational opinion about the merits of the rezoning. They also have the right to express this opinion to the City at a public hearing. When citizens feel they have been denied one or both of these rights, they may seek a remedy in the courts by petitioning for judicial review. However, judicial review has well defined limits. Citizens who disagree with the City’s view of the public interest must seek change through the political process rather than the courts.”
Yes. As a citizen you have two rights, to know what the zoning application is, enough, so that you can complain about it to the council at a public hearing. Hooray. Short of that its all political.
The case outlines in particular the limit of the pre-hearing disclosure. Only materials directly related to the zoning decision must be disclosed.
In this case the City had pretty much sealed a deal for an underlying land swap before council had decided on the zoning decision. The concern being that the City had bound itself to a direction before council had decided on the matter. Apparently in this case, the city did such a good job of hiding the deal from the public that not even the council knew of its existence or terms before voting in favour of the zoning proposal. The city wasn’t influenced by the deal because it didn’t know about the deal.
What this means is that before an important public hearing takes place an active request should be put out requesting that all materials relating to the application (in broad terms) be released. It might not give you the whole story behind an application but it will give you more than the City is now required to give in the absence of a specific request.
Madaninejad v. North Vancouver (District), concerns orders made by the District of North Vancouver against a property owner to re-mediate a landslide risk. The orders were upheld on judicial review.
Beauchesne v. W.J. Stelmaschuk and Associates Ltd., deals with employee workplace injuries. Remember that you cannot sue an employer or another employee or worker for injuries sustained while you are at work. The WCB is a complicated environment and we are prepared to assist employers and employees in dealing with the claims process.