Articles & Publications

Article, Staff | |

Tax Sales for Municipal Finance Officers

This paper will discuss current legal trends regarding notices, upset prices and post-redemption period court challenges to tax sales as each of these can have a significant impact on municipal liability. This paper assumes the reader has a general understanding of the mechanics of the tax sale process and is not intended to be a step-by-step guide.

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Article, Publication, Staff | |

New Energy Efficiency Requirements under the BC Building Code

The BC Energy Step Code is a provincial building standard incorporated within the BC Building Code (BCBC) that provides an incremental approach to achieving more energy efficient buildings that go above the base requirements of the BCBC. The Energy Step Code is designed to slowly introduce and increase mandated efficiency requirements so that local authorities and the construction industry can adapt to the process in a management way.

The standard was first introduced in 2017 as a voluntary, compliance-based roadmap that both local government and industry could choose to use to incentivize or require builders to meet a level of energy efficiency in new building construction. Managing Partner, Sonia Sahota, wrote an article about these standards when they were first introduced. That article can be found here.

However, beginning in early 2023, all new buildings constructed in BC will be required to be 20 percent more energy efficient than those built to the requirements of the 2018 BCBC. This article looks at the updates and changes being made under the BCBC. 

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Article, Staff | |

Modernizing BC’s Privacy Laws: Mandatory Breach Notification Requirements and Privacy Management Programs for Public Bodies

On February 1, 2023 two significant amendments to British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FOIPPA”) will come into force and which will have major impacts on public bodies handling and management of personal information:

  • The implementation of mandatory privacy breach notification requirements; and
  • The requirement for public bodies to implement a privacy management program.

To familiarize public bodies with these looming changes and to authorize their adoption into FOIPPA, the Government of British Columbia recently issued an order of the lieutenant governor in council and a ministerial direction from the Minister of Citizens’ Services, which outline the breach notification requirements and set out the necessary building blocks for the design of a privacy management program. These statutory changes are briefly summarized in this article.

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Publication, Students | |

Applications and Implications of the new Housing Supply Act

On November 24, the provincial government introduced into law the Housing Supply Act (the “Act”). Though it is not expected to come into effect until the spring of 2023, we write to provide an overview for readers that may be impacted.

In brief, the Act empowers the Minister of the soon-to-be-established Ministry of Housing to issue orders setting housing targets. The targets may be for the availability or affordability of housing, and they will apply to a specific municipality. The Act also sets out escalating steps that the Province may take against municipalities to enforce the housing targets applicable to such municipalities.

As published in the NRCA’s Northern Construction Connection December 2022 Newsletter, and VICA’s e-New.

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Article, Staff | |

A Tale of Two Housing Crises: How British Columbia and Ontario are Increasing Housing Supply through new Legislation

Housing affordability has been top of mind for many Canadians, and on November 21, 2022, BC’s Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, the Honourable Murray Rankin, introduced Bill 43 to enact the Housing Supply Act, meant as “an important tool in reversing the housing crisis….” and Bill 44 to enact the Building and Strata Statutes Amendment Act, 2022, to “Expand housing options… in this tight housing market” (together, the “Housing Bills“). The Housing Bills come several months after then-incoming Premier David Eby laid out his plan for affordable housing (the “Housing Plan“), and almost one month after Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing introduced Bill 23, enacting the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 (the “MHBF Act”) to increase housing supply in its Province.

This article provides an overview of the Housing Bills and compares them against the Housing Plan and Ontario’s MHBF Act.

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Publication, Staff | |

Regulatory Requirements for Municipal Utility Corporations: Recommendations from the British Columbia Utilities Commission

In recent decades local government utility corporations have proliferated in British Columbia and provided a mechanism through which municipalities and regional districts have been able to provide energy utility services to its residents through a legally distinct corporate entity owned and operated by the local government.

With local governments increasingly electing to exercise their statutory authority under section 185 of the Community Charter to incorporate local government corporations as a vehicle through which they can provide energy utility services to its residents, inquiries into whether such local government corporations may be regulated under the Utilities Commission Act (the “Act”) or are exempt from its statutory requirements became a priority for the British Columbia Utilities Commission (the “Commission”).

On November 10, 2022, the Commission released the stage 1 report (the “Report”) of the Inquiry into the Regulation of Municipal Energy Utilities. The Report addresses (1) whether a local government corporation wholly owned and operated by a local government and providing energy utility services exclusively within that local government’s boundaries, meets the municipal exclusion set out in the Act and (2), if not, whether the provision of such energy services should be regulated under the Act.

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Publication, Staff | |

Bidders Beware: Information Submitted in Response to an RFP may be Disclosed

Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, RSBC 1996, c. 165 (“FIPPA), members of the public may request access to records held by a public body (“records”).

To balance the objectives of making records accessible and protecting privacy rights of individuals and corporations, section 21(1) of FIPPA sets out a three-part test to determine when the head of the public body must refuse to disclose requested information.

While this article deals with section 21(1)(b), section 21(1)(a) and section 21(1)(c) also must be satisfied. The specific considerations under those sections are significant enough warrant their own article. This article will deal exclusively with section 21(1)(b).

As published in the NRCA’s Northern Construction Connection November 2022 Newsletter, and VICA’s e-New.

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Publication, Staff | |

Upcoming Changes to B.C.’s Soil Relocation Regime

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy in British Columbia (the Ministry) is set to bring in new requirements for soil relocation through amendments to the Environmental Management Act (EMA) and the Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR). This article will briefly examine the evolving regulatory environment by setting out the Ministry’s new proposed process for regulating the relocation of both contaminated and uncontaminated soils.

As published in the NRCA’s Northern Construction Connection October 2022 Newsletter, and VICA’s e-New.

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Publication, Students | |

The Tale of Strict Compliance and Minor Technicalities in a Lien Claim

Lien legislation protects those parties that have contributed to an improvement and may not otherwise have recourse against the land owner due to a lack of contract or other legal entitlement. However, the protections afforded by the legislation must be obtained through exercising strict compliance with the law. As a recent Ontario case demonstrates, even seemingly minor technicalities can operate to bar a claimant from recovery.

As published in the NRCA’s Northern Construction Connection September 2022 Newsletter, and VICA’s e-New.

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Publication, Staff | |

The Fine Line Between Bid Repair and Bid Clarification: Permissible Post-Closing Conduct for Bidders and Procuring Entities

In June, we published an article addressing non-compliance and substantial compliance of tender bids. In that article, we discussed the need for bids to be compliant to give rise to Contract A—the bid contract. The requisite compliance, while assessed objectively, can vary depending on the express terms and conditions contained in the tender documents.

This article will examine situations when seeking clarification from a bidder post-closing may be permitted and when such conduct may constitute bid repair.

As published in the NRCA’s Northern Construction Connection August 2022 Newsletter, and VICA’s e-New.

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