Helping self-representing Litigants by Hal MacGregor

As a Director of the Ontario Landowners Association (OLA), I have been associated with many property owners, who have tried to represent themselves before various Tribunals and Courts in Ontario. Some of these people have been members of the OLA, while others have chosen not to join. Some of these people were passed along to me by mutual friends, who asked me to help them. In some instances, I became a representative. In others, I merely provided advice.

One particular friend of mine stands out above all the rest. His name is Brian Nitchke.
Brian and his wife, Danusia, were in the process of building a lovely mansion a mile back in the woods on their large wooded property in Montague. Through hard work and fortitude, they managed to almost finish the building, when the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), noticed it and began to apply their assessment, although it had no water or electricity yet. As such, it was legally classified as a construction site. However, MPAC applied a hefty assessment to the site even though their regulations stated “a construction site was not to be assessed”.

I met with Brian several times at his house, and watched him as he struggled with several Assessment Review Board (ARB) Chairmen and MPAC representatives at Tribunals in Smiths Falls. The greatest problem facing Brian was that ARB Chairmen were under orders only to consider acceptable “comparables”. Those comparables had to be acceptable to both parties (MPAC and the Appellant). When Brian tried to raise the matter of MPAC disregarding their own regulations, he was quickly stifled by the ARB Chairman. I saw Brian become completely frustrated but he remained calm through several ARB Hearings, and he persisted.

In one instance, he invited me out to his home, when several senior staff from MPAC visited his home. My place was to sit there, listen, then, after everyone had left, to give advice to Brian. This annual process went on through five ARB hearings. Finally, Brian hit a nerve at MPAC, and they decided to refer his case to an MPAC Adjudicator.

Lo and behold, the Adjudicator came down with a ruling in Brian’s favour! He stated that MPAC had contravened their own regulations, and were less than truthful over the five year period.

Brian was ecstatic! This experience proved to Brian, his family and all his friends that persistence and fortitude in a righteous cause will pay off in a country, where the legal rights of the common person supersede those of careless megaliths.
Note: Nitchke v. MPAC can be found on Quick Law.