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City of Windsor vs Canadian Transit Company

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City of Windsor Successful at Supreme Court of Canada versus the Canadian Transit Company

This morning the Supreme Court of Canada issued a decision in the matter argued on April 21, 2016 between The Corporation of the City of Windsor and the Canadian Transit Company (CTC).

The Supreme Court allowed the City’s appeal and confirmed the City’s position that the proper forum for the hearing of appeals of property standards orders issued against the CTC is the Superior Court of Justice and not the Federal Court.

“The Superior Court of Justice is the proper authority for dealing with the property standards appeals by CTC. We’re pleased the Supreme Court agrees with us and we hope this matter is dealt with quickly to resolve the outstanding issues.”- Drew Dilkens, Mayor, City of Windsor

The CTC appealed various Property Standards Orders issued by the City in respect of residential properties it owns in Olde Sandwich Town.  In addition the CTC brought an application in Federal Court regarding the applicability of the City’s Property Standards By-law to the properties.  There were a number of hearings about this issue and City ultimately brought this matter to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In its decision, the Supreme Court of Canada found that the federal act creating the CTC is not enough to invoke the authority provided in section 23 of the Federal Courts Act.

In the decision, Justice Abella said: “The result of diverting the course of the proceedings into a jurisdictional side-show is obvious – additional expense and delay in aid of nothing except avoiding a determination of the merits for as long as possible.  To date, that jurisdictional diversion has cost the public a delay of three years.  There is no basis for further delaying the Superior Court proceedings”.  The City says it completely agrees.

Although this case flows from property standards orders issued by the City, the decision does not deal with the merits of the orders or make any determinations about whether or not the CTC must repair the houses.  The applicability of the City’s Property Standards By-laws to the properties owned by the CTC is now a matter for the Superior Court of Justice to determine. In that forum the City will argue that the Property Standards By-law applies to the CTC properties.

This case is about the jurisdiction of the Federal Court, the administration of justice and principles of constitutional law as they apply to the interpretation and application of municipal by-laws.  The City says it appreciates the support of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities as interveners in this matter, particularly as it emphasized the importance of access to the courts and access to justice at the local level.