This summer the Alberta Court of Appeal in the case
of 1694192 Alberta Ltd. v. Lac La Biche County
(Subdivision and Development Appeal Board), was asked to grant
1694192 Alberta Ltd. leave to challenge a decision made by the Lac
La Biche Subdivision Appeal Board in which it revoked a development
permit granted by the Municipality after the appeal
period had expired. The application to grant the right to
challenge the revocation was refused by the Court of Appeal without
much discussion despite the fact that the landowner was
substantially prejudiced by this decision.
The controversial part of the facts surrounding this decision is
that all the confusion and hardship to the owner stemmed directly
from an error by the Municipality when the permit was issued. In
certain circumstances the Municipal Government
Act (Alberta) requires the Municipality to provide a
minimum number of days' notice to surrounding landowners within
which they may appeal the issuance of a development permit. In this
situation, it was brought to the attention of the Municipality,
after the expiry of the initial appeal period, that it did not
provide this minimum notice. In order to rectify the problem the
Municipality issued a second notice to appeal the decision. An
adjacent landowner took advantage of this second appeal period and
was successful at the Subdivision Appeal Board in getting the
development permit revoked.
The extent of the hardship to 1694192 Alberta Ltd. comes to
light once it is realized that the corporation relied upon the
expiry of the first appeal period to waive its conditions contained
in the contract to purchase the subject lands. 1694192 Alberta Ltd.
bought the lands with a development permit in place allowing them
to set up a campground but was told after the money changed hands
that this was no longer an option once the second appeal was
successful. In summary, the lands were now useless for its intended
purpose notwithstanding the best efforts of 1694192 Alberta and the
original vendor to ensure this was not the case.
For companies involved in the land development business this is
a cautionary tale about relying on the Municipality when making
costly decisions such as purchasing land. This is not to say that
the Municipalities are not competent and trustworthy in most
situations, but there is always the element of human error involved
which has to be observed when a third party to a transaction is
being relied on to waive conditions. The simple fix in this
situation is due diligence and knowing how the development approval
process works so that deficiencies can be spotted before a mistake
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.
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