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Municipal Law - BYLAWS AND RESOLUTIONS - Enforcement of bylaws - Contempt

Thursday, December 22, 2016 @ 7:00 PM  

Sentencing of the respondent, dos Reis, for civil contempt. In February 2015, the Court of Appeal determined that the location of a building situated on the respondent’s property violated a municipal bylaw. The Court ordered removal of the building within 60 days. After various administrative efforts to avoid the order were exhausted and the building remained in place, the City brought a motion for contempt. In May 2016, the Court of Appeal judge ruled that the respondent pursued a course of conduct contrary to the order in an untimely effort to avoid compliance. The City’s forbearance of enforcement of the order did not provide an excuse for the respondent’s conduct. Contempt was established beyond a reasonable doubt. The building was taken down in October 2016, though the site remained cluttered with debris. The City sought a fine of $7,500.

HELD: dos Reis was fined $5,000. The respondent had ample opportunity to purge her contempt and failed to do so. Her attempt at compliance with the order remained incomplete. The respondent exhibited disobedience and disdain for the Court’s processes. Given the respondent’s status as sole property owner and her modest means, a fine of $5,000 payable to the City would achieve the objectives of sentencing without imposition of a crushing penalty. The fine was deterrent and proportionate to the seriousness of the contempt and the respondent’s defiant attitude. The aggravated case of disrespect justified imposition of deadlines for compliance with escalating fines for non-compliance or non-payment. The City was awarded special costs for the contempt proceedings.