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Property Rights Get a Boost from the Supreme Court of Canada

In a recent ruling of  the Supreme Court of Canada in Annapolis Group Inc. v. Halifax Regional Municipality,  2022 SCC 36, property rights got a major boost.  It has long been argued that onerous zoning by a municipality is akin to “a taking of property” which should trigger compensation under the relevant Expropriation Act.  However, that has not been the law.  In the above case, the City of Halifax refused development applications by the appellant preferring park use.  The court held that although the test of whether an interest in property had been taken has been set out in Canadian Pacific Railway Co. v. Vancouver (City),  [2006] 1 S.C.R. 227, 2006 SCC 5  as: (1) whether the public authority has acquired a beneficial interest in the property or flowing from it; and (2) whether the state action has removed all reasonable uses of the property, there need not be an actual beneficial interest acquired if an advantage had been conferred upon the municipality regardless of its intention. Therefore, evidence of an advantage conferred upon the municipality was adduceable by the appellant.

This significantly alters the CPR test above by broadening it to adjudicate as a question of fact as to whether an advantage has been conferred upon the relevant government instead of the test being whether an actual acquisition in some form has taken place.

Kudos to the Supreme Court of Canada!

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