The Ontario Superior Court on Friday struck down a City of
Toronto municipal bylaw which banned the sale of shark fin and
shark fin products in the City of Toronto.
The danger of shark fin products to sharks was never seriously
in doubt. There was ample evidence that the collection of
fins from live sharks was dangerous to the well-being of sharks and
shark species. The primary consideration of the court was
whether the bylaw was properly enacted by the City of Toronto, that
is, whether it was enacted for a valid municipal purpose. The
Court ultimately decided that it was not.
In a recent B.C. Supreme Court case, the Court considered
similar issues (municipal purposes) and
ruled that a City of Richmond bylaw banning the sale of dogs in
pet stores was valid.
The City of Toronto was not as fortunate in defending its bylaw.
The Court considered whether the bylaw fell within the municipal
power (under the
City of Toronto Act) to regulate animals, and decided that it
was not (shark fin being an animal product but not itself an
animal). Similarly, the Court found that the bylaw did not fall
within the municipal power to regulate the economic, social and
environmental well-being of the City, or the health, safety and
well-being of persons, as no negative impact on the environment or
the health of the City or its residents could be identified.
The Court was clear that it is not enough that an issue be
important in order for the City to have jurisdiction - there must
also be a valid municipal purpose:
The power to deal with municipal issues is a broad power since
it is not defined in the Act. However that fact does not mean
that an issue is a municipal issue merely because a policy decision
is taken by City Council that an issue is important and it is
desirable to take municipal action with regard to the issue.
If all that was required to give jurisdiction to the City
were such a policy decision, the determination of the scope of the
jurisdiction of the City would be solely a matter for the decision
of City Council. That result would be inconsistent with the
fact that the powers delegated to City Council under the Act are
limited to municipal issues.
The case has importance for other cities in Canada that are also
considering similar bans. The City of Calgary, governed by
Municipal Government Act (which, at Section 7 contains a
similar list of the heads of municipal power as the City of Toronto
Act) is currently
in consultations on a similar ban. A number of British
Columbia cities have enacted similar bans, and the City of
currently considering a similar measure.
Effective September 1, 2016, the Disposition of Surplus Real Property Regulation to the Ontario Education Act was amended with the intention to reduce barriers to the formation of health and community hubs in Ontario.
Health Canada is proposing to change the way that it regulates non-prescription drugs, natural health products and cosmetics in Canada, which will now be referred to collectively as "self-care products."
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