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ACTIONS BY AND AGAINST - Actions against municipality

Thursday, March 02, 2017 @ 8:47 AM  

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Appeal by Weinmann Electric Ltd. (Weinmann) from a trial judge decision dismissing its action against The Regional Municipality of Niagara (the “region”) alleging a failure to follow its bylaws governing contracting for the provision of goods and services. The procedure governing contracting was set out in a series of four consecutive bylaws. The bylaws established different and more onerous requirements to be met as the value of the goods and services being purchased increased. At trial, Weinmann argued that the region breached its bylaws by contracting with a competitor, Regional Trenching, without following the competitive purchasing processes set out in the bylaws, and by a pervasive practice of contract-splitting. The appellant alleged that Regional Trenching wrongly obtained approximately $11 million in contracts from the region over a 10-year period. Weinmann submitted that the trial judge erred in law in interpreting the bylaws and made palpable and overriding errors of fact in concluding that the region’s conduct did not violate the bylaws.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The trial judge made no errors in interpreting the bylaws. There was no error in the trial judge’s conclusion that the bylaws did not restrict the amount of work that may be procured from a single supplier and did not prevent the region from using a task-oriented approach in completing projects rather than a contract-based approach. The trial judge carefully reviewed the evidence in a detailed and considered decision. There was no basis on which to draw the inference that Weinmann’s inability to obtain work from the region could be explained only by the region’s disregard and/or manipulation of the contracting bylaws. The trial judge’s findings to the contrary were supported on the record that was before him. Even assuming that Weinmann could succeed in establishing a violation of the bylaws, Weinmann failed to establish any damages.

Weinmann Electric Ltd. v. Niagara (Regional Municipality), [2016] O.J. No. 6701, Ontario Court of Appeal, D.H. Doherty, D.M. Brown and G. Huscroft JJ.A., December 30, 2016. Digest No. 3640-012