Category:By-Laws

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Interpreting a Municipal Bylaw

Potusek v. Township of Alnwick-Haldimand, 2019 ONSC 5677 (CanLII)

[22] I agree with the judge below that the task of interpreting a municipal bylaw, like statutes, involves both a broad and a purposive approach. Section 64 of the Legislation Act, 2006, SO 2006 c 21, sch F provides that statutes are to be given a “fair, large and liberal interpretation as best ensures the attainment of its objects”. In Rizzo & Rizzo Shoes Ltd. (Re), 1998 CanLII 837 (SCC), the Supreme Court of Canada endorsed the modern approach to statutory interpretation as follows:

Today there is only one principle or approach, namely, the words of an Act are to be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament.


[23] In Croplife Canada v. Toronto (City), 2005 CanLII 15709 (ON CA), the Court of Appeal stressed that the approach to interpreting municipal bylaws is one of large and purposive construction. Moreover, it said that courts ought to be constrained in finding a bylaw invalid so as not to impinge on municipal democracy.

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Gladu v Robineau, 2017 ONSC 37 (CanLII)

[266] Pomerance J. had the following to say about the statutory duties imposed by the Building Code Act, 1992, in Essex Condominium Corp. No. 43 v. Lasalle (Town) (2009), 69 M.P.L.R. (4th) 44 (Ont. S.C.), at para. 8:

The BCA was enacted in order to ensure that construction in the province meets standards assuring the health and safety of members of the public. The BCA, through the building code establishes minimum standards that must be met in order to satisfy safety concerns. As it was described by the Supreme Court of Canada in Ingles v. Tutkaluk Construction Ltd., 2000 SCC 12 (CanLII), (2000) 1 S.C.R. 298 (S.C.C.) at para. 23:
The legislative scheme is designed to ensure that uniform standards of construction safety are imposed and enforced by the municipalities…The purpose of the building inspection scheme is clear from these provisions: to protect the health and safety of the public by enforcing safety standards for all construction projects.

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