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Administrative Law - Judicial review and statutory appeal - Practice and procedure - Parties - Standing or locus standi

Thursday, March 16, 2017 @ 8:00 PM  

Appeal by municipal residents, the Miners, from the dismissal of their application to quash a bylaw of the Municipality of the County of Kings (Municipality) for illegality and cross-appeal by the respondent Glooscap First Nation Economic Development Corporation (Glooscap) from the grant of standing to the appellants to bring the application. In May 2015, Glooscap applied to have the Municipality’s land use bylaw amended to allow for commercial development of land they owned adjacent to a highway. The development required a rezoning of the land from Forestry (F1) to Highway Commercial (C11). The Municipality sent notice to the owners of property within 500 feet of the proposed rezoning in one area, including the appellants, but not to the affected owners in another area. A public hearing was held in July 2015, which was indicated in the notices and advertised in the newspaper. The Municipality passed the Land Use Bylaw amendments and rezoned the property on July 30, 2015. The appellants brought an application for judicial review of the bylaw amendment. They claimed that in failing to notify the owners of property in the one area, the Municipality had breached its duty of procedural fairness to those landowners; therefore the bylaw amendment was illegal and should be quashed. The Municipality and Glooscap claimed that the appellants, who had been given notice, did not have standing to bring the application. The reviewing judge concluded that the appellants did have standing to bring the matter before the court, but he dismissed the application. He concluded that the appellants, who had been notified, had received procedural fairness. The appellants appealed, arguing that the reviewing judge erred in failing to address the argument of prima facie illegality. Glooscap cross-appealed, arguing that the judge erred in granting the appellants standing.

HELD: Appeal dismissed and cross-appeal allowed. The appellants should not have been granted standing. The reviewing judge was incorrect in his interpretation of s. 189 of the Municipal Government Act. That section did not give rise to standing as of right to “a person” or “residents and ratepayers”. The appellants did not meet the test for public interest standing. While there was a justiciable issue to be resolved, its seriousness was questionable. There was no evidence as to how many landowners were affected by the bylaw change and there was no indication of why the appellants had an interest in the treatment of the landowners who were not given notice. Furthermore, the appellants’ request for judicial review was not a reasonable and effective means of addressing the justiciable issue as pled. As the appellants were not entitled to standing, the appeal was dismissed.