1909988 Ontario Ltd. v. Municipality of North Cowichan

(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)


Municipal law - By-laws, Zoning - Municipal law — By laws — Zoning — Application of the administrative law principle set out in Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v. Vavilov, 2019 SCC 65: when a decision maker departs from longstanding practices or established internal authority, it bears the justificatory burden of explaining that departure — Whether the Court of Appeal erred in law in its application of the Vavilov decision — Where a decision maker has no obligation to provide reasons for a decision, how does a court assess the record for whether the justificatory burden has been met, without arbitrarily substituting its own justification — Whether there are any issues of public importance raised?.


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The applicant sought a development permit for a motorsport circuit use. In 2019, Mr. Conway, the Municipality’s Director of Planning and Building, refused to issue a development permit to the applicant on the grounds that the applicant’s proposed use of the land was not permitted under its zoning bylaw. In 2015, Mr. Mack, the Municipality’s then Director of Planning and Development, had issued a development permit to the applicant for what it says was the same proposed land use in relation to an identically zoned portion of adjoining property. The applicant sought reconsideration by municipal council of Mr. Conway’s refusal to issue a development permit. Municipal council confirmed the refusal. Next, the applicant sought judicial review of the reconsideration decision. The reconsideration decision was quashed by the chambers judge, and the matter was remitted back to council for redetermination. The Court of Appeal allowed the respondent’s appeal. The chambers judge’s order was set aside, and applicant’s underlying petition was dismissed.