Ontario Civil

Municipal Law


Interpretation of municipal statutes

Alleged renovations not rising to level of public safety or structural integrity concern

Respondent building inspector alleged that certain contraventions of Building Code Act were found during November 30, 2015 inspection of property owned by applicant, K. Inspection was carried out to ensure compliance with respondent municipality's zoning bylaw. Order to comply alleged that “interior renovations” were carried out at property without building permit. These included completion of interior finishes ; plumbing installation in basement; installation of wall in double entry way ; and installation of wall to enclose window in basement (“alleged renovations”). Inspector was of opinion that work carried out at property constituted material “installations” within existing building and, as such, required building permit. Inspector issued order requiring K to obtain building permit for construction allegedly carried out on his property. K brought application for order requiring municipality to rescind order to comply. Application granted. Pursuant to s. 8. (1) of Act, no person shall construct or demolish building or cause building to be constructed or demolished unless permit has been issued therefor by chief building official. “Construct” means to do anything in erection, installation, extension or material alteration or repair of building. Plain meaning of legislation is that no person shall do anything in material alteration of building unless permit has been issued therefor by chief building official. Question was whether these alleged renovations were “material alterations”. This was question of mixed fact and law. Inspector must consider legislation in light of circumstances that he or she finds and apply his or her expertise to legislation. As such, court should defer to inspector's determination so long as it is reasonable based on evidence on record. Renovations in present case were minor in nature, and did not go to structural essence of property. Simply putting in new internal wall did not meet this threshold. Alleged renovations in this case could not be said to “rise to the level of a public safety or structural integrity concern”. On this record, items referred to in order were sort of minor renovations without structural import that any homeowner should be able to do without involvement of city inspectors. To find otherwise would not be reasonable and fair application of legislation. On this record, inspector's decision was unreasonable and, as such, inspector's opinion was not entitled to deference.
Kritz v. Guelph (City) (2016), 2016 CarswellOnt 21677, 2016 ONSC 6877, Lemon J. (Ont. S.C.J.).


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