BRIEF: Ontario Land Tribunal Issues Rare Cost Order Against Municipality

The Ontario Land Tribunal issued an extremely rare cost order against a municipality.

OLT Member Blair Taylor ruled that the Township of Norwich’s conduct was “unreasonable” in opposing a zoning application for a barn.

The case involved ‘a young farmer, who was forced to bring the appeal in order to build a barn for the financial stability and prosperity of his modest farming operation.’

Counsel for the farmer sought a costs order writing, the County’s planning staff “recommended the application” that “there was no genuine issue in dispute” and “notwithstanding this the Township retained an outside expert and external counsel to resist the application.”

The Township’s politicians opposed the application claiming that “the Applicant had promised no further buildings would be constructed.”

The Township failed to provide any evidence of this to the Tribunal and instead “totally abandon[ed] its rationale for the refusal” during the OLT hearing.”

Mbr Taylor noted some of the concerns advanced by the Township “could likely have been resolved through pre-hearing communication and a thorough reading of the Nutrient Management Plan.”

The Tribunal ordered the Township to pay $6,000 in costs, approximately half of the farmer’s legal bills.

The City of Hamilton should take note.

Mbr Taylor took note of inconsistent decision-making by certain members of Hamilton City Council in the decision he wrote approving a mid-rise building at 600 James Street North.

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