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POWERS OF MUNICIPALITY - Regulation of property and activities - Safety - Unsafe or hazardous property

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 @ 9:25 AM  

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Appeal by the City of St. Thomas and its Chief Building Official, Peck, from an order declaring null, void and inoperable an order to remedy an unsafe building owned by Sutherland Lofts. Sutherland cross-appealed to obtain an interim injunction to prevent the City from demolishing the subject building, and a declaratory order that the building was not unsafe. Sutherland purchased the 100-year-old building in 2003 with the intention of renovating it into a combination of commercial and residential apartments. However, the plan never progressed and the vacant building had since deteriorated. The City first issued an Order to Remedy in March 2008. The building was partially demolished by the City prior to Sutherland obtaining a stay of the demolition order. Sutherland was unsuccessful in trying to sell the building and took no steps to continue renovations. A significant section of the building collapsed in June 2015. The roof partially collapsed in September 2015. Some steps were taken by Sutherland to comply with emergency remedial orders, but the work required was not completed and the order which was the subject of the present appeal and cross-appeal was issued in December 2015. Sutherland successfully applied in March 2016 to have the order nullified. The judge found that the order did not comply with the Building Code Act because only the owner, not the property manager and local supervisory agent, were served with it, and because the order lacked the necessary specificity. The judge did not deal with Sutherland’s request for injunctive relief, and did not determine the factual issue of the building’s structural integrity.

HELD: Appeal by the City and Peck allowed; cross-appeal by Sutherland dismissed. The City and Peck properly served the order by registered mail on Sutherland as owner at its last known address. It was within Peck’s discretion as to whether the respondent’s property manager and local supervisory agent needed to be served. Only the owner was in possession of the building and service on Sutherland alone was therefore sufficient. In any event, all interested parties were aware of the order. The judge also erred in finding the order lacked the required specificity. The order specified the areas and items that comprised the serious, unsafe conditions requiring remediation. Given the history of their dealings, all parties knew what was needed to be done to remedy the building. The C ourt lacked sufficient evidence to determine the cross-appeal.

Sutherland Lofts Inc. v. Peck, [2017] O.J. No. 2313, Ontario Court of Appeal, K.M. Weiler, G.I. Pardu and L.B. Roberts JJ.A., May 8, 2017. Digest No. TLD-June122017007