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MUNICIPAL BOARDS AND TRIBUNALS - Removal of board members - Judicial review

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 8:36 AM  

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Appeal by a former member of the Town's Heritage Board from a judicial review judgment upholding the Town's decision to remove him from the Board. The appellant was a member of the Town's volunteer Heritage Board. In 2015, a controversial matter regarding demolition of a church came before the Board. The issuance of a development permit and the appeal of that decision provoked strong feelings in the community. As a result of disagreement and discord among the Board, a lawyer was hired by the Town to investigate and report on the role of the Board and the conduct of its members in the process, among other things. The investigator found that the appellant had testified on behalf of the party opposing the demolition permit and voluntarily provided an affidavit. The investigator found that the appellant's actions were inappropriate and constituted misconduct. The Town relied on the investigator's conclusion to remove the appellant from the Board. The Town's removal decision was found to be reasonable on judicial review. The appellant was a public officer whom the Town had the ability to suspend or remove from the Board. Removal from the Board, although a severe sanction, was within the range of possible and acceptable outcomes. The appellant appealed.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The Town's jurisdiction to remove the appellant from the Board logically flowed from its authority to appoint him to the Board. The Board was a statutory entity. The reviewing court did not err in characterizing Board members as public officers. Nor did the reviewing court err in deferring to the Town's conclusion that the applicant's behaviour amounted to misconduct. Having regard to the reviewing court's comprehensive and carefully considered reasons, and the determination that the removal decision was reasonable, no basis for appellate interference was established. In addition, no basis was established for interference with the discretionary order awarding costs against the appellant.

Béliveau v. Sackville (Town), [2017] N.B.J. No. 133, New Brunswick Court of Appeal, J.C.M. Richard, K.A. Quigg and B.L. Baird JJ.A., June 15, 2017. Digest No. TLD-June262017003