Judge rules on municipal services dispute between Town of Gander, businesses
The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador has granted the Town of Gander authority to bill local businesses for some maintenance, snowclearing and paving services, but not in all situations the municipality was hoping for.
The town took 14 businesses to court after it invoiced them for the costs incurred to handle snowclearing, maintenance, and paving on municipally-owned parking lots and service roads adjacent to their properties.
Those businesses refused to pay.
In a decision rendered last Thursday, Justice James Adams said that while it is within the town’s right to impose a levy on services associated with the parking lot, the same cannot be said with respect to the service roads.
The town owns five parking lots adjacent to commercial strip malls. Four of those properties also have service roads running behind or adjacent to them.
Adams noted in his decision the businesses in question are not complying with the town’s development regulations, as they do not provide their own parking spaces other than those provided by the town. He wrote that without those spaces, “the businesses in their properties could not operate.”
However, Adams also ruled the town does not have the authority to impose fees on the business for such services at municipally-owned parking lots.
For the service roads, Adams found they could not be defined
as a highway and are not intended for public use or the parking of vehicles, therefore he ruled the town was not in the position to charge for a local improvement assessment under the Highway Traffic Act.
He also ruled the town could not impose a service levy for the roads, though he noted the town can choose to cease clearing snow from those service roads or barricade them if it so wishes.