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PUBLIC UTILITIES - Regulatory tribunals - Licensing and rate-making

Friday, November 08, 2019 @ 6:21 AM  

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Appeal by Macdonald Communities Limited from a decision of the Alberta Utilities Commission that declined to set rates charged by a privately-owned wastewater service provider. The appellant was a developer of a residential development. Two corporations supplied potable water and wastewater services to the residents. The Commission held that a public utility as defined in the Public Utilities Act did not include wastewater or sewer services.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The Commission’s decision was reviewable on a reasonableness standard. Its interpretation of the definition of public utility was entitled to deference and was reasonable. The definition of public utility in s. 1(i)(iv) of the Public Utilities Act was exhaustive. In the context of the provision, the ordinary and grammatical sense of water did not include wastewater being transmitted away from the development. A proper statutory interpretation pointed to the legislature’s intent to draw the line of essential services between water and wastewater, which did not amount to an absurdity.

Macdonald Communities Ltd. v. Alberta (Utilities Commission), [2019] A.J. No. 1281, Alberta Court of Appeal, P.T. Costigan, D. Pentelechuk and K.P. Feehan JJ.A., September 25, 2019. Digest No. TLD-November42019013