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Another legal setback for Halton Conservation Authority

Another legal setback for Halton Conservation Authority

The Halton Region Conservation Authority has lost another round in its battle with an Aldershot homeowner.

The Ontario Court of Appeal has declined to hear the Authority’s appeal of an earlier decision to award the homeowners $100,000 in damages. While doing so, the Court also ordered the Authority (HRCA) to pay the homeowners an additional $5,000.

The Conservation Authority’s latest loss is part of a larger and ongoing dispute.

In a complex series of events the homeowners wanted to build an addition to their property on Spring Gardens Road. They needed permission from the Conservation Authority because the land is on a steep valley slope. HRCA did in fact grant the permit in 2018.

There were problems during the construction in 2019 and a portion of the original home ended up being rebuilt along with the work originally approved by the Conservation Authority. HRCA discovered the change and ruled that, their permit had only been for a renovation and an addition while project had evolved into a complete rebuild. They accused the owners of constructing an entirely new home and described the homeowner’s intentions as a “sham”. They withdrew their permit stopping the construction.

The homeowners took the HRCA to Court for failing to hold a public hearing that would give them a chance to explain the situation.

In December 2021 the Divisional Court ruled that, while the Authority had the right to withdraw the permit, they could not do so without a show-cause hearing, which they failed to offer the homeowner. The Court awarded $100,000 in damages to the homeowner. The HRCA then tried to appeal that award resulting in this month’s denial.

“Conservation Halton respects the decision of the court and has no further comment on this matter. Conservation Halton’s primary goal is to ensure that the long-term stability of the valley is maintained and that there is no risk to life or property damage as a result of development occurring on the site”, said a spokesperson for HRCA.

The home, at 835 Spring Gardens Road, remains unfinished and uninhabited. Construction has not resumed.

So far, the Conservation Authority has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the file.

A show-cause hearing on the issue is expected in September.

Story and Picture by Rick Craven

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