Rogers Communications Inc., et al. v. City of Châteauguay, et al.
(Quebec) (Civil) (By Leave)
Constitutional law - Administrative law, Division of powers, Broadcasting, Federal paramountcy.
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Constitutional law – Administrative law – Division of powers – Radiocommunication – Interjurisdictional immunity – Federal paramountcy – Municipality bringing expropriation proceedings and establishing reserve on immovable in order to find alternative site for construction of telecommunications tower – Whether municipality’s actions interfered unconstitutionally with federal jurisdiction over radiocommunication – Lawfulness of municipality’s actions – Whether municipality’s actions were in bad faith or constituted abuse of authority.
After establishing a search area to build a telecommunications tower in Châteauguay, Rogers informed Châteauguay in March 2008 that it intended to build the tower at 411 Saint-Francis, which it had been renting since December 2007. Châteauguay initially opposed the project but eventually issued a construction permit. The population of Châteauguay mobilized, and the public consultation process required by federal standards then resumed. The City proposed an alternative site that suited Rogers, namely 50 Industriel, but the City first had to expropriate the owner. Faced with a prolonged contestation, Rogers decided to move forward with 411 Saint-Francis. The City then issued a notice of land reserve on the 411 Saint-Francis site.
The lawfulness and constitutionality of the notices of expropriation and reserve were contested in the Superior Court. Perreault J. began by finding that the City had not abused its expropriation authority in relation to 50 Industriel. She also held that the expropriation of 50 Industriel did not amount to unconstitutional interference with federal jurisdiction over radiocommunication. However, she found that, by issuing the notice of reserve on 411 Saint-Francis, the City had acted in bad faith and abused its authority, which made the notice null. The Court of Appeal affirmed the decision except with respect to the lawfulness of the notice of reserve. In its opinion, when the two notices were considered together, it had to be concluded that the City had acted for a legitimate municipal purpose, namely protecting the welfare of its citizens and ensuring the harmonious development of its land.
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