2017 Harvest

2017 Harvest

Monday, January 28, 2013

Landowners seek to rely on 60-year old drainage maintenance agreement with municipality

Landowners and a municipality disagreed over the continuing effectiveness of an agreement made in 1953 that required the municipality's predecessor to maintain a drainage system and to make good any and all damage caused to the landowner (property owner).  The agreement had been made at a time when the local Township wished to construct a drainage system along a road.  In exchange for a right of access to the neighbouring property belonging to the predecessor-in-title to the current landowners, the Township gave the undertakings respecting maintenance and repair of damages.  The agreement was not registered on title, but the current landowners were aware of it.

When the current landowners asked the current municipality (the successor of the original Township) to meet its obligations under the agreement, the municipality responded that it was no longer bound by the agreement.  The parties then agreed to have the Court decide the question in a "Special Case" under Rule 22 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.

The result was the following series of declarations by the Court in favour of the landowners:

1. A DECLARATION that the Agreement on April 27, 1953, properly interpreted, did impose a perpetual obligation of the Township of Thurlow to maintain the drainage system it had installed in good working condition at all times and to make good any and all damage caused to the property owner whoever that may be from time to time as a result of lack of repair or of acts done at any time by the corporation in maintaining and repairing the system.
2. A DECLARATION that as a result of the amalgamation of the Township of Thurlow and the Defendant City in 1998, the Defendant City is bound by the contractual obligations of the former Township which are found to have been created by the Agreement.
3. A DECLARATION that the Agreement is valid and binding notwithstanding that it was not entered into or, the system was not constructed, under or in accordance with legislation such as the Drainage Act.
4. A DECLARATION that the Agreement can be enforced against the Defendant City although it was not registered on title under the Registry Act and/or the Land Titles Act.
5. A DECLARATION that the Plaintiffs are not barred from enforcing the Agreement by s. 449 of the Municipal Act, 2001.
6. A DECLARATION that the Defendant does not have a valid defence to the Plaintiffs’ claim on the basis that the conduct of the Defendant amounts to the exercise or non-exercise of a discretionary function resulting from a policy decision.
7. A DECLARATION that the Plaintiffs are successors of the Agreement and thus, are entitled to enforce the Agreement without an express assignment.
8. A DECLARATION that the Defendant does not have a valid defence to the Plaintiffs' claim on the basis that the Plaintiffs are trying to enforce a positive covenant in regard the land.
9. A DECLARATION that the Agreement, which imposes a perpetual obligation upon the City, is not invalid as contrary to public policy because it does impose a perpetual obligation.
10. A DECLARATION that there is sufficient description of the property and easements in the Agreement to create an enforceable agreement.
11. A DECLARATION that the Defendant does not have a valid defence to the Plaintiffs’claim on the basis that the Plaintiffs did not inquire about the Agreement and/or its status before they bought the land, and/or by reason of the defence that the Plaintiffs did not rely on the Agreement when they bought the land.
12. A DECLARATION that the Agreement is not void as against public policy as fettering the Defendant City’s discretion with respect to future uses of roads and road allowances.
13. A DECLARATION that there is no statutory limitation period that acts to bar an action by the Plaintiffs.
14. A DECLARATION that the Plaintiffs’ claim for damages for breach of the Agreement is not defeated by the doctrine of laches.

Read the decision at: Brown v. Belleville (City).