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TRUSTS - Charitable trusts

Wednesday, August 12, 2020 @ 6:00 AM  

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Petition by a District for a declaration that a proposed plan would be consistent with the purpose of a trust or to authorize a sale as part of an administrative scheme or, alternatively, to vary the trust. The deceased left a will devising a property to the District for use as a park, expressing the wish that in developing it “the trees and natural growth be preserved as far as may be practical”. The District sought to sell part of the property to help finance the purchase of two properties that would be added to a waterfront park. The parties agreed that the District held the property in trust and that the purpose was charitable.

HELD: Petition allowed. The deceased’s intention was for the property to be a neighbourhood park, preserving the mature trees and natural growth for the community’s use and enjoyment. The disposition of part of the property to be developed as residential lots with the removal of a substantial number of trees was not consistent with the purpose of the trust. The direction to preserve the trees and natural growth was part of the charitable purpose of the trust, not a mere administrative matter. However, it was appropriate to vary the trust under s. 184(3) of the Community Charter. There were compelling public policy grounds to allow a municipality to consider the best interests of its community in managing trust assets. The proposed plan was in the community’s best interests. The proposed plan was a well-documented plan that was subject to extensive study and consultation, taking into consideration other park space. The proposed plan demonstrated sufficient respect for the deceased’s general intention. Her intention could be framed more broadly in terms of the development of park space in which people would have access to a more natural environment.

Corp. of the West Vancouver (District) v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [2020] B.C.J. No. 1044, British Columbia Supreme Court, Edelmann J., June 29, 2020. Digest No. TLD-August102020006