On June 25, 2015, the Superior Court of Quebec, in a 92 page
judgment, dismissed a motion to certify a class action brought
against the City of Brossard and the City of Longueuil in Quebec
based on allegations of nuisance and abnormal neighbourhood
annoyances caused by increased traffic on Chemin des Prairies,
located in the City of Brossard. The Superior Court judgment is
currently being appealed to the Court of Appeal of Quebec.
The Petitioners' are residents of the City of Brossard and
Chemin des Prairies. The action is based on a general civil
liability claim and on the no-fault liability regime provided for
in section 976 of the Civil Code of Quebec
("CCQ") for cases of abnormal neighbourhood
The two municipalities are accused of faulty urban planning,
particularly in authorizing the development of the Quartier Dix-30
Mall, one of the largest malls in Quebec, thus increasing traffic
on neighbouring Chemin des Prairies. The municipalities are also
accused of tardiness in finalizing construction of arterials
roadways in Brossard that would have allegedly relieved traffic
from Chemin des Prairies.
If the Petitioners are successful in their appeal to have the
class action certified, they seek the following relief: an
injunction ordering the Respondents to remedy the issues related to
the traffic on Chemin des Prairies, and compensatory and punitive
damages for all members of the group.
Under Quebec law, the certification of class actions depends on
four cumulative criteria as provided in section 1003 of the
Code of Civil Procedure of Quebec ("CCP") (in
force until December 31, 2015) :
the recourses of the members raise
identical, similar or related questions of law or fact;
the facts alleged seem to justify the
the composition of the group makes
the application of article 59 or 67 difficult or impracticable; and
the member to whom the court intends
to ascribe the status of representative is in a position to
represent the members adequately.
The Superior Court of Quebec concluded that criteria a, c and d
were met, but dismissed the motion for certification on the basis
that criterion b was not met.
Criterion b of section 1003 of the CCP requires that the facts
alleged seem to justify the conclusions sought. The Petitioners
must demonstrate, prima facie, the basis of their claim.
In this respect, the Court's analysis can be summarized as
With regard to the general civil liability claim, where the
three elements of the claim must be demonstrated (namely liability,
damages, and a causal link), the Court concluded that the
Petitioners failed to demonstrate liability and a causal link. The
allegations in the Petitioners' motion, although they must be
deemed proven, are contradicted by the evidence, and most
particularly by expert reports filed by both the Petitoners and
Respondents. Furthermore, the Court also held that in the absence
of bad faith allegations against the municipality, it cannot
conclude that the City of Brossard's urban planning decisions
resulted in any liability.
With regard to the no-fault liability regime in cases of
abnormal neighbourhood annoyances (section 976 of the CCQ), the
Court held that the Petitioners have an obligation to demonstrate
that the inconvenience caused by the increased traffic on Chemin
des Prairies is abnormal. The normal or abnormal nature of the
inconvenience must be assessed objectively; not in consideration of
the Petitioners' expectations. Chemin des Prairies has been
catergorized by the City of Brossard as a "collector"
road which, in accordance with applicable norms, bears a traffic
capacity of approximately 5,000 vehicles per day. The Court
concluded, based on the evidence on the record, that the traffic on
Chemin des Prairies respects those norms and that, as a result, the
consequences of such traffic are not abnormal. The Court also held
that the Petitioners were unable to demonstrate that they incurred
a particular prejudice as a result of the traffic on Chemin des
Prairies, different from that of any resident living along a
collector road. Hence, the conditions of section 976 CCQ were not
Finally, with regard to the injunctive relief sought by the
Petitioners, the Courts cannot order a public body such as a
municipality to act in a particular manner when the decision to do
so falls in the discretionary spectre of the powers of the
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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