Court Cases in Renfrew County by Donna Burns

Donna Burns, President of the Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke Landowners Association reports on four ongoing court cases.

Our chapter has had 4 court cases this week:

Case #1: North Bay: One of our members (Leo) from our Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke chapter had a trial in North Bay Superior Court of Justice on Mon. Oct. 27th. Leo had an issue with the municipality in Mattawa wherein he built his own laneway into his property for his private use because the Township would not resume maintaining a grown-over bylaw road located just over the concession line at the edge of his land. Once he gravelled and put considerable expense to his private laneway, the Township claimed it as their old bylaw road. The legal surveys show Leo’s laneway as solely on his property, yet the Township is approving severances of lots that require trespassing across his private laneway for access. The Township refused to negotiate compensation, but instead insisted he “deed” his laneway to them. They had the option of expropriating but never did. Instead they forced Leo to incur huge legal and survey costs to protect his private property rights. Terrence Green and Jeff Bogaerts were representing Leo at the Superior Court of Justice in North Bay expecting a one-day trial that continued into part of the next day (Tues. Oct 28th). It will be several weeks before a decision comes down from the Judge on the outcome of this trial.

Case #2 & 3: Pembroke: Two members of the Renfrew Landowners Board of Directors made their 20th appearance in Pembroke court Monday, Oct. 27th regarding the dog tag war wherein they had to report to the Court that the dates set for trial for these two cases will be March 2-4th, 2016 allowing 1-1/2 days for each case. This case began in October 2013. There have been 3 different Justices of the Peace who have sat before them on this case in addition to 3 different lawyers from the same firm of the prosecution. The Township charged both parties for “failure to buy a dog tag”. There were over 400 people in this same township that did not purchase a dog tag, but only these two people were charged who coincidentally happen to sit on the Board of Directors of our chapter of the Ontario Landowners. Their dispute is based on the fact that they believe this bylaw is an illegal bylaw and that the municipality only has authority to impound or muzzle a dog “running at large” as per sections 103 and 105 of the Municipal Act of Ontario. Terrence Green’s office unable to attend due to the trial in North Bay, provided instructions to the two clients to speak themselves on their matter.

Case #4: Pembroke: A third member (Doug) of our Chapter Board of Directors made an appearance in Pembroke court Monday, Oct. 27th regarding a dispute between the volunteer fire department of this same municipality involved in the dog tag war. Doug is the owner of the Chip Truck and his problems with the Fire Department suddenly began when he became a Director for the Renfrew Landowners. He had been in business for 6 years prior to that and never once was there an inspection or any issue with the fire department regarding his business. This case was to go to trial on Tues. Oct. 28th, however, Mr. Green’s office only received partial disclosure early last week. They had been requesting it since August. As a result, they were seeking an adjournment for trial and made such a request to the prosecutor’s office. (It is the normal practice to have disclosure material (the evidence the prosecutor has against the defendant) provided to the defence team at least 4 weeks before going to trial in order for the defence to review it and prepare for trial.) It was arranged so that our Director can make the request for adjournment since Mr. Green and Mr. Bogaerts were both in North Bay and it was assumed that because of the lateness in receiving the disclosure information, there would be no problem in getting an adjournment. However, Doug was informed by the prosecution that their client (the municipality) did not want an adjournment. The Justice of the Peace, who also happened to be the same JP who signed subpoenas for Doug last week and learned of the lateness of the disclosure, suggested to Doug that he should be getting an adjournment for the trial. However, at the court hearing on Monday, the same JP denied the request for adjournment. The Universe works in mysterious ways…….with the trial going on in North Bay at the Superior Court level, the North Bay Judge did not want his trial to be delayed any further due to the length in time and great expense already ensued. When he learned that both Mr. Green and Mr. Bogaerts were both required to be in Pembroke at the Provincial Offence Court as a result of the denial of adjournment from the Justice of the Peace, this Judge hastily made some phone calls to East Regional Senior Justice of the Peace’s office and the prosecutor in Pembroke ordering the “adjournment” in Pembroke to allow Mr. Green and Mr. Bogaerts to be available in North Bay the next day for the continuation of Leo’s trial above. Needless to say, when we appeared in court on Tues. Oct. 28th (after learning late the night before that there will now be an adjournment), there were some very upset people on the side of the municipality who expected to proceed to trial. This is an example that shows where the Superior Court of Justice has more jurisdiction over the Provincial Offence Court.

It seems the Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke chapter have awakened a sleeping giant in Renfrew County by taking a stand to protect private property rights and making aware the legislation that is written to do so. It is still our hope that even with all this conflict, eventually, eyes will open up and some good will come out of this in the end.