Bylaw did not authorize municipality to levy fee against homeowner

Municipal Law - Municipal fees, levies, and charges - Fire protection tax

Homeowner had fire in his garage which was put out by municipal fire department. Municipality then invoiced homeowner's insurer for $9,472.24 for cost of fire services provided. Insurer refused to pay bill and municipality added fee to homeowner's tax bill. Homeowner paid tax bill and was subsequently reimbursed by insurer. Insurer then brought subrogated application on behalf of homeowner for declaration that municipality was not allowed to levy fee against homeowner. Application was dismissed. Judge found that fee levied against homeowner for fire department services was proper. Judge found that municipal bylaw which provided for recovery from insurers of costs of fire department services allowed for charging of fees to homeowner as set out in schedule of fees incorporated into bylaw. Homeowner appealed. Appeal allowed. Bylaw did not authorize municipality to levy fee against homeowner in this case. Purpose of bylaw in question was to recover costs of fire department services from insurers and nothing in bylaw provided for charges to be levied against homeowners if insurers declined to pay. Municipality was not authorized to bill homeowner's tax account and was required to reimburse homeowner for fee levied. Schedule of fees was detail of fees set out in bylaw, not source of fees.

Potusek v. Township of Alnwick-Haldimand (2019), 2019 CarswellOnt 15502, 2019 ONSC 5677, F.L. Myers J. (Ont. Div. Ct.).

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