Canada: Ontario Court Of Appeal Addresses Minimum Maintenance Standards: Giuliani v. Halton (Municipality)

Last Updated: January 6 2012
Article by Adriana De Marco

Most Read Contributor in Canada, September 2016

On December 21, 2011, the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the defendant municipalities' appeal of the trial decision in Giuliani v. Halton (Municipality). This is a significant case as it addresses the Minimum Maintenance Standards.

This action arose from a motor vehicle accident on April 1, 2003 in which the plaintiff lost control of her vehicle due to the accumulation of ice and snow in the roadway and struck another vehicle in the oncoming lane. The trial judge held that the defendant municipalities had been negligent in the maintenance of the roadway, and that the Minimum Maintenance Standards for Municipal Highways ("MMS") did not afford the municipalities with a defence. In addition, the trial judge allocated 50% contributory negligence to the plaintiff for driving too fast in the circumstances.

The only issue on appeal was whether the trial judge erred in determining that the MMS did not apply as a defence to the plaintiff's action. The plaintiff cross-appealed on the issue of contributory negligence, and the cross-appeal was also dismissed.

By way of background, section 44 of the Municipal Act, 2001 sets out a municipality's obligation to maintain roadways in a reasonable state of repair. It also creates legal liability for failing to maintain roadways. In addition, section 44 sets out 3 defences for a municipality. A municipality would not be responsible for failing to maintain the roadway:

  • if it did not or could not have known that a roadway was in a state of disrepair;
  • if it took reasonable steps to address the condition of disrepair;
  • if it met the applicable MMS.

The MMS comprise a series of standards for various aspects of road maintenance, including patrolling, salting and clearing snow, which vary depending on the speed limit and traffic volume on a particular roadway. The MMS were initially enacted under O. Reg. 239/02 and later amended by O. Reg. 23/10. The initial version of the MMS was applicable in this case.

The accident in this case occurred at 7:00 a.m. on April 1, 2003 on a two lane, two way road, with a speed limit of 80 km/h. It was considered a Class 2 roadway under the MMS. Weather forecasts from the day before the accident indicated that there would be snowfall beginning from the early morning hours of April 1. Snow likely began to fall at about 4:00 a.m., and there was a total snow accumulation of approximately 2 cm. By the time the accident took place, the roadway was covered with snow and ice caused by traffic compacting the snow, and the road conditions presented a hazard to motorists. The municipality began salting the roadways at 7:15 a.m., approximately 15 minutes after the accident took place. The trial judge found that, had there been proper monitoring of weather and road conditions, salting would have been commenced much earlier, and icy conditions would have been prevented. Accordingly, the trial judge held that there was a failure to maintain the roadway in a reasonable state of repair in the circumstances, and "but for" this failure, the accident would not have occurred. The trial judge rejected the municipalities' argument that the MMS provided a defence to the action.

For the purposes of the appeal, the only issue was whether the MMS provided a defence to the action.

In dismissing the municipalities' appeal, the Court of Appeal clearly stated that the "purpose of minimum standards is to provide a municipality with a defence even if it would otherwise be liable under the provisions of section 44." Accordingly, even if a municipality did not maintain a roadway in a reasonable state of repair in the circumstances, and even if it knew or ought to have known of the disrepair and did not take steps to prevent the disrepair, a municipality would not be liable if it complied with the applicable MMS.

That said, not every circumstance is addressed by the MMS. In this case, the Court of Appeal agreed with the trial judge's finding that neither section 4 nor section 5 of the MMS were applicable in this case.

Section 4 of the MMS sets out standards for the clearing of accumulated snow as soon as practicable after becoming aware that the snow accumulation is greater than a certain depth, in this case, 5 cm for a Class 2. It also sets out a standard for clearing snow to a depth less than 5 cm within 6 hours after the snow accumulation has ended and after becoming aware that the snow accumulation exceeds 5 cm. The Court of Appeal stated that section 4 would only be triggered where the snow exceeded the depth specified in the MMS, in this case 5 cm. Here, where the total accumulation of snow was only 2 cm, section 4 was not triggered and had no application. The Court of Appeal noted that section 4 did not say that a municipality need not clear snow if the accumulation was less than 5 cm. Nor did section 4 provide a standard for snow clearing where there was less than a 5 cm accumulation of snow. Accordingly, it appears that a municipality will not be able to defend itself by arguing that the minimum standard relating to snow clearing has been met in cases where there has been snow accumulation which is less than the amount prescribed in the MMS.

The Court of Appeal also considered section 5 of the MMS. Section 5 sets out standards for deploying resources to treat icy roadways "as soon as practicable after becoming aware that the roadway is icy" and for treating an icy roadway within a prescribed amount of time after becoming aware that a roadway is icy, in this case, 4 hours for a Class 2 road. The Court of Appeal stated that section 5 would apply to situations where the roadway has already become icy, not before the roadway is icy. In this case, the municipalities' defaults involved inadequate weather monitoring and inadequate road patrolling which allowed ice to develop. Section 5 did not apply as a defence in this case because the municipalities' negligence arose from the failure to prevent ice from forming, not from the way the municipality dealt with an already icy roadway. This decision signals that courts will interpret the applicability of the MMS narrowly, according to their precise wording. The MMS will not apply in every circumstance relating to road maintenance. However, in cases where a municipality's conduct falls squarely within the parameters of the MMS, a municipality can rely upon its compliance with the MMS as a defence in circumstances where it would otherwise be negligent.

About BLG

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.