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Category Archives: Municipal

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Should I Challenge My Property Tax Assessment?

Posted in Commercial, Municipal, Property Tax Assessment, Residential

Ontario property owners are receiving notices of assessment this year that will serve as a basis for tax collections in 2017 through 2020. Values are set by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (“MPAC”) based on estimated January 1, 2016 market values. Municipalities will then use these assessments to determine your property taxes payable.… Continue Reading

Building up BC – Building Act

Posted in Construction, Municipal

The British Columbia Government has started to bring into force some of the key provisions of its new Building Act.

The Act, which was passed by the legislature in the early half of 2015, is intended to provide greater consistency in the building and construction industry, and to modernize and streamline the building regulatory system.… Continue Reading

Beware of the Residential Invasion!

Posted in Construction, Land Use, Municipal, Residential, Zoning

It must tell something about the age we live in, but TV shows and movies dealing with zombies have been all over the place for a couple of years now. However, as a real estate lawyer representing large industrial corporations, there is something I fear more than an invasion of undead people on the lookout for fresh brains: the urban sprawl!  And more specifically, the residential invasion of industrial areas caused by the urban sprawl.… Continue Reading

Medical Marijuana Business Applicants Undergo Review

Posted in Municipal, Policy

On June 24, 2015, Vancouver became the first Canadian city to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. We provided an overview of these amendments here.

Currently, businesses seeking to comply with the municipal regime are undergoing a multi-stage review in hopes of being approved for operation. This post explains what to expect from that process and discusses prominent issues going forward.… Continue Reading

Why Aren’t More Grocery Stores in BC Selling Liquor?

Posted in Municipal, Policy

One of the key recommendations from the 2013 Liquor Policy Review Final Report in BC was that liquor should be made available in grocery stores. Earlier this year, the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) implemented this recommendation by issuing a policy directive, effective April 1, 2015, that describes how grocery stores may sell liquor. However, as readers of this blog in BC will have noticed, very few grocery stores have started selling liquor. In fact, currently only one grocery store is doing so: the Save-On-Foods in Surrey. Why is this? As described below, there are two significant impediments.… Continue Reading

Not so Fast: REDMA Amendments May not Have Retrospective Effect

Posted in Municipal, Policy

On May 29, 2014, the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, 2014 received royal assent. It made significant amendments (the “Amendments”) to the Real Estate Development Marketing Act, S.B.C. 2004 c. 41 (“REDMA” or the “Act”).

One such Amendment relates to a developer’s ability to retain a purchaser’s deposit not only for failing to pay a subsequent deposit but also for failing to complete the purchase. Another significant Amendment imposes a one year time limit on a purchaser’s post-closing right of rescission. For further information about these and other significant Amendments, see our previous post on … Continue Reading

Commercial Availability Rates in Montreal: Figures have never been this high in the past 10 years

Posted in Commercial, Municipal

On May 28, 2015, Newmark Knight Frank Devencore published its Real Estate Market Study for Spring/Summer 2015 and essentially noted that vacancy rates in downtown Montreal’s Class “A” and “B” office buildings continued to increase over the second half of 2014, establishing themselves at 8,6%, up from 8% at the beginning of 2014. Overall, Newmark Knight Frank Devencore has indicated that overall availability rates, which take into consideration the office space that may currently be occupied but is available for lease or sublet, have increased to 16%. … Continue Reading

More on Covenants to Insure

Posted in Municipal, Policy

In a recent blog entry, Covenants to Insure, we summarized the protection afforded when a party (the “beneficiary”) obtains a contractual promise from its counter-party (the “covenanter”) to obtain insurance against specified risks.

In short, the obligation to obtain insurance, known as a “covenant to insure”, operates to prevent the covenanter from successfully suing the beneficiary for losses within scope of the risks that were to be insured against, even if such losses are the result of the beneficiary’s own negligence or breach of contract.… Continue Reading

Vertical Parking, Elevated Parking or Car Stackers… Call it as You Want, This is an Incredible Space-Saver!

Posted in Land Use, Municipal, Zoning

You may have seen this while strolling down in the streets of New York City or Chicago, where a few elevated parking lots can be found, or while watching the 2011 movie Mission Impossible : Ghost Protocol, where a vertical parking structure is used as the set of a quite intense fist fight.

Vertical parking is a brilliant idea which allows a property owner to increase parking capacity through multiple levels using mechanical lifts and hydraulic systems. The practical applications are multiple : parking lot operators can turn small plots of land into profitable operations, residential and commercial developers … Continue Reading

A Bridge Over Deregulated Waters: The New Navigation Protection Act

Posted in Construction, Land Use, Municipal, Policy

On April 1, 2014, the Federal Navigation Protection Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. N-22 (the “New Act”) came into force, replacing the Navigable Waters Protection Act (the “Old Act”) and making notable changes to Canada’s regulation of waterways.  The legislative objective is to enable municipal authorities to manage local projects, like bridge construction, without the costs and delays often incurred in the course of the Federal approval process.  These amendments are likely to have implications across various industries, including construction, oil and gas, transportation, and telecommunication.

Highlights of the amendments include the following:

  1. The New Act
Continue Reading

Québec off-title searches – A Rumsfeldian adventure

Posted in Municipal

There are many differences and misconceptions about Québec off-title searches that resemble Don Rumsfeld’s famous speech.

The first is that responses are typically available only after thirty days and beyond most due diligence periods, creating the “unkown unkowns” category.

If the transaction allows time for receipt before waiver and violations disclosed ( the “known knowns”) the reader must then further inquire as to whether the violations are outstanding (typically authorities do not necessarily follow up or note corrections).  Violations are also often dated, possibly time barred or tenant matters. Regulators are also not required to note corrections (often loath to … Continue Reading

Conditional Building Permits: A Very Useful Tool

Posted in Construction, Municipal

There are many situations in which a developer may need to begin construction before a certain date, but cannot get their building permit in time. In Ontario that is usually because they cannot yet meet some very minor “applicable law” requirement that, according the Building Code Act, they must comply with in order to obtain the permit.[1]

A conditional building permit can often get around this problem, even though many municipalities in Ontario use them so infrequently that they seem barely aware that they have the authority to issue them. Conditional building permits are authorized pursuant to s. … Continue Reading


Posted in Municipal

It is not uncommon for parties to enter into contracts for the purchase and sale of real estate that contain defects which may affect their enforceability.

To be enforceable, a purchase contract must set out the essential terms of the agreement; in particular, it must clearly describe the “three Ps” (parties, property and price) and other key terms such as the completion date and the particulars of any vendor financing or leaseback.  Although these legal requirements are well known, even the most experienced real estate professional will occasionally fail to adequately describe one or more essential terms in a purchase … Continue Reading

Waiving “formalities” in a Procurement Process: What Owners and Bidders Need to Know

Posted in Municipal

It is not unusual for tender documents to reserve discretion to an owner to “waive formalities” in accepting a bid.  Such discretion needs to be interpreted in the context of the requirement that an owner may in no circumstances accept a “non-compliant bid”.  But, without further definition, what is considered a “formality” that may be waived?  What risks does an owner in a procurement process face if it waives a formality, or alternatively, if it refuses to exercise its discretion to do so?  These are the questions the Ontario Court of Appeal grappled with in Rankin Construction Inc. v. Ontario.Continue Reading

New Building Bylaw: No More Door Knobs

Posted in Municipal

In September, 2013, Vancouver City Council approved a new 2014 City of Vancouver Building Bylaw.  According to the City, the 2014 Building Bylaw 10908, which covers detached houses and low-rise residential buildings, brings about changes to the current Building Bylaw 9419 to support housing for seniors and people with disabilities, while supporting the objectives of the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan.

Changes include:

  • mandating of adaptable housing requirements such as wider doorways, stairways, and corridors
  • setting improved energy efficiency targets, including an upgrade to window performance, an increase in insulation levels, greater air tightness and mandatory installation of a
Continue Reading

Superintendent of Real Estate Publishes Amended Policy Statements pursuant to Real Estate Development Marketing Act (British Columbia)

Posted in Municipal

On May 29, 2014, a number of important amendments to the Real Estate Development Marketing Act (REDMA) became effective.  Scott Smythe and Jennifer Hayes have both commented on these amendments in previous blog posts (see https://www.canadianrealpropertylawblog.com/2014/03/redma-revisited/ and https://www.canadianrealpropertylawblog.com/2014/08/redma-an-update/).  The purpose of this post is to advise of a very recent, related development, being the publication by the Superintendent of Real Estate for British Columbia of several amended Policy Statements that complement the recent REDMA amendments.  The amended Policy Statements will become effective on October 1, 2014, and can be found at: http://www.fic.gov.bc.ca/index.aspx?p=real_estate/bulletins

By way of background, the Superintendent’s office … Continue Reading

Covenants to Insure

Posted in Municipal

In most commercial leases, the landlord and tenant obligate themselves to obtain policies of insurance against certain risks.  This often includes, for the landlord, property insurance for the building and boiler equipment, liability and property policies for the landlord’s operations in the building, and coverage for loss of rental income, and, for the tenant, commercial general liability insurance, insurance for its property within the premises, and business interruption insurance.

Such obligations to obtain insurance are usually referred to as “covenants to insure”.  But what is their legal effect?  

In short, a covenant to insure precludes the party obligating itself to … Continue Reading


Posted in Municipal

One of the trickiest parts of drafting any commercial agreement, including a lease, is anticipating how all its provisions will be interpreted once it is in effect. Differing interpretations can lead to disagreements between the contracting parties, and possibly to litigation. If this happens, courts will generally follow certain rules (such as using the literal meaning of the words in the agreement and construing the agreement as a whole) to enact the parties’ actual intentions at the time of contracting. But even with these rules, confusion easily arises, which can be problematic (and expensive). The use of boilerplates can assist … Continue Reading

Good News for Strata Resorts In BC

Posted in Municipal

The Supreme Court of British Columbia, in its recent decision in 585582 B.C. Ltd. v. Anderson, upheld as valid and enforceable a mandatory rental pool restrictive covenant registered against strata lots in a resort development. The covenant in question was similar in substance to those often registered against strata lots forming part of strata resort hotels in BC.  It set out that strata lot owners could not rent their strata lots to the public, except in accordance with a rental pool management agreement that provided that the rental revenue would be split 50/50 between the hotel operator and the … Continue Reading

REDMA – An Update

Posted in Municipal

On May 29, 2014, Bill 17, the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, received Royal Assent, bringing into force several amendments and additions to the Real Estate Development Marketing Act (British Columbia) (“REDMA”) previously discussed in detail in my colleague Scott Smythe’s post from earlier this year: https://www.canadianrealpropertylawblog.com/2014/03/redma-revisited/

According to the government, the amendments are intended to “clarify the scope of purchasers’ remedies and certainty to the enforceability of purchasers’ contracts” and are “designed to increase industry efficiency and provide purchasers with a more readable disclosure statement”.  In summary, the newly-passed legislation:

  • clarifies that a “new purchaser” is a person
Continue Reading

BC Court of Appeal Affirms Distressing Decision

Posted in Municipal

On December 30, 2013, we wrote about the BC Supreme Court’s decision in Delane Industry Co. Ltd. v. PCI Properties Corp., 2013 BCSC 1397, where the Court held that a landlord’s termination of a commercial lease was ineffective because the landlord, having issued a demand letter while the distress process was underway, subsequently purported to terminate the lease after the distress failed to yield sufficient proceeds to cover the rent in arrears.  To validly terminate the lease following distress, the landlord needed to issue a fresh demand letter (specifying the amount of rent still in arrears) and allow the … Continue Reading