News from Renfrew Landowners Association by Donna Burns

On April 11, 2014 landowners from the Renfrew Landowners Association, Carleton Landowners Association and Lanark Landowners Association attended a court hearing in Ottawa to show support for landowner Terry Thomson of McNab Braeside Township.

To give a little bit of history on this case: Terry held a private party on his farm in 2012. Initially, the year before (2011), he had approached the township to see if he required a permit to hold a party because he was having a live band play at it. The CAO of the township told him that McNab does not have such a permit. At that time, the OPP dropped in, just checking it out, said there were no complaints and everything was fine. The following year, in 2012, Terry planned another party for his friends, once again with a live band. The day before the party, bylaw drove in, taking pictures as he was driving in, when he noticed a stage for the band being set up and that some people had brought their camper trailers and had them parked in the field. Terry had mentioned to bylaw that he will be collecting donations from his friends to help pay for the cost of the band. Bylaw advised everything was fine however if there were any complaints, the first warning would be a phone call; the second would be a visit. Terry stated he didn’t expect any complaints because all the neighbours were attending the party. On the night of the party, Terry’s rights were violated when a bylaw employee entered his property (without his consent or knowledge), paid a $10 donation and said he was a friend of a friend. Meanwhile, the owner of the bylaw agency had parked his vehicle about 500 feet past Terry’s property, out of sight, and was in radio communication with the bylaw employee who pretended to be a “friend of a friend”. The bylaw employee was mingling amongst Terry’s friends at the party trying to encourage any one of them to sell him some liquor. This was an attempt from Bylaw to create a situation wherein Terry could be fined….we call this “entrapment”. As it turned out, none of the friends fell for this trick and soon realized this person was not who he claimed he was. Therefore, bylaw was unsuccessful in his attempt to set Terry up. When the bylaw employee realized he had been made, he quickly left the party and met up with his employer from the bylaw agency.

Approximately 10 days after the party, the bylaw officer dropped in (admitting there were no complaints), and then presented Terry with a summons charging him: (1) for operating a concert venue in an area not properly zoned; and (2) operating a commercial vehicle campground in an area not properly zoned. At the court hearing, the Justice of the Peace dropped the second charge and bluntly remarked at this being a “cloak and dagger operation” performed by bylaw. However, the first charge stood and Terry was fined $1000 because he “sold tickets”. He did pay the fine. Shortly after, Terry decided to take a stand and fight for his rights. This was abuse of authority on the part of the township and bylaw and it is against the Constitution to be treated this way. Bylaw entered his property, on the night of the party, obviously to do an inspection; but they did so without a warrant….that’s a criminal code offence called Trespass. The owner of the bylaw agency, being a former police chief, was well aware of that and yet he still chose to abuse his authority and trespassed on private property. The township had contracted this bylaw agency to enforce their bylaws and seemingly endorsed the actions performed by bylaw which has now made them liable for tort action.

This court hearing held last Friday, April 11th came as a result of the Township putting forth a motion before the courts recommending that Terry’s lawsuit against them be dropped. The two lawyers (one representing the Township and the other representing the bylaw agency) together tried to convince the court that Terry Thomson’s case is over and done with…it should be dropped. In other words, in their opinion, it’s okay for Bylaw and the Township to abuse their authority and infringe on private property rights……as far as they are concerned, Terry should have “no rights” and not be allowed to fight back and defend them! Terry’s lawyer, Kurtis Andrews from Terrence Green & Associates, did an outstanding job on behalf of Terry. Currently, we are waiting for the decision of the Judge to make a ruling.

If our municipalities believe we should not have any rights, what does that say about our elected officials who are supposed to be representing the people that elected them? Do they really want to run their municipality in a communistic fashion? This is a dangerous way of thinking by our municipalities and even more dangerous if the courts go along with this….then we are all in big trouble. This is why it is so important that our elected officials stop and think about some of these decisions they make that affects our Constitutional rights. They have to read and understand the legislation as it was created and respect the rules of enforcement. It appears they only look at bringing in revenue and they don’t care what they have to do to get it. When they don’t respect the private property rights of their ratepayers, they have to realize they are also denying the private property rights of their very own families.