Attention: AMSC Members – Please distribute to all appropriate personnel
It Cost HOW Much? Adding Clean-Up Costs to the Tax Roll
By Kelsey Becker Brookes
Reynolds Mirth Richards Farmer LLP
AMSC Casual Legal Service Provider
When municipal enforcement action under the Municipal Government Act (the “MGA”) is ineffective and your Orders to Remedy Contraventions and Stop Orders are being ignored, s. 554 of the MGA can be a very effective method of obtaining compliance. Where a contravention of the MGA, another enactment the municipality is entitled to enforce or a bylaw is of a continuing nature, s. 554 permits a municipality to bring an application to the Court of Queen’s Bench for a Court Order requiring compliance and gives the Court broad discretion in making such an Order.
Court Orders under s. 554 will frequently include a provision that in the event the respondent does not bring the property into compliance within a certain period of time, the municipality may enter onto the property and take whatever action is necessary to bring the property into compliance and to charge the costs to the tax roll for the property. These words echo s. 553 of the MGA, which also permit expenses and costs of carrying out enforcement action to be added to the tax roll for a property.
Non-compliant respondents often take issue with the addition of a large clean-up bill being added to their tax roll. What can a municipality do to protect itself from a successful challenge? Fortunately, municipalities are given broad discretion regarding the necessary actions or measures required to bring land back into compliance with its bylaws, and the expenses and costs associated therewith.
Courts will generally uphold expenses and costs added to the tax roll, and refuse to reduce the amount added to the tax roll, provided the municipality can demonstrate the scope of the clean-up, the number of hours it took to clean-up the property, the number of workers involved, and the cost per hour charged for the clean-up was reasonable in the circumstances.
To best prepare itself for such a claim, a municipality will want to obtain more than one quote for the work, choose the least expensive option when appropriate and keep detailed records of the scope of the clean-up, including both man and equipment hours and photographs and video of the work completed, if possible. It is also a good idea to let the respondent know the anticipated cost of the clean-up in advance, as an incentive for them to complete the work on their own, if possible.
To access AMSC’s Casual Legal Helpline, AUMA members can call toll-free to 1-800-661-7673 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and reach the municipal legal experts at Reynolds Mirth Richards and Farmer LLP. For more information on the Casual Legal Service, please contact Will Burtenshaw, Senior Director, Risk & Claims, at 780-431-4525, or toll-free at 310-AUMA (2862) or via email at email@example.com. Any Regular or Associate member of the AUMA can access the Casual Legal Service.
DISCLAIMER: This article is meant to provide information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. You should seek the advice of legal counsel to address your specific set of circumstances. Although every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, changes to the law may cause the information in this article to be outdated.