BEEDIE (KEEFER STREET) HOLDINGS LTD. v. VANCOUVER (CITY), 2020 BCSC 1441

The fundamental nature of judicial review by the court is one of review as to the legality, reasonableness and fairness of the administrative process and its outcomes.

Beedie (petitioner) owned a development property at 105 Keefer Street and 544 Columbia Street in Vancouver (the Property), located in the Chinatown neighbourhood. In early-mid June 2017, the City denied Beedie’s application to rezone the Property. After the denial of the Rezoning Application, the petitioner submitted an application for a development permit for the Property (the “DP Application”). The property in aid location is regulated under the City’s HA-1A District Schedule (the “Schedule”) and the Chinatown HA-1A District Guidelines (the “Guidelines”). The Petitioner submitted the final DP Application in July, 2017 to City Staff for reviewing under the bylaws, policies and guidelines of the city. The Urban Design Panel, reviewed the DP application and supported it by imposing certain conditions. In September, 2017 DP Board held a public meeting to receive public comment on the DP application which was the mixed comments of support and oppose. The property’s location required the DP application to be reviewed by Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee (“CHAPC”) which opposed the same and it was this long procedure that the review by the Development Permit Staff Committee (the “DP Committee”) was made.

The DP Committee approved the application. However, the DP Board held a second meeting for review with four members. In this meeting Ms. Molaro provided Mr. Kelley with ‘Con position’ of the application, on the areas where the DP Board had discretion to depart from the DP Committee’s recommendation. The DP Board held third public meeting to consider DP Application, the vote to refuse the application was supported by three members while the chair of DP Board did not vote on the Application. The reasons included by the board to refuse DP Application was, non-compliance with the Zoning By-Law and with “Policies and Guidelines that affect the site” and that the City had received objections from neighbouring property owners. Beedie filed an appeal of the DP Board’s decision to the Board of Variance but due to lack of jurisdiction the appeal was declined. Now the current application is for judicial review proceeding in which the petitioner alleged that bona fide triable issues exist between the parties. The Beedie’s issues categorized are challenging the reasonableness of the DP refusal; raising issues of procedural fairness and, alleged lack of good faith.

The Court observed for ‘challenging the reasonableness of the DP refusal’ that, it is nothing more than speculation rather the arguments do not rise to a sufficient level to rebut the presumption of regularity and the principle of deliberative secrecy, which will be sufficient to allow discovery on this issue, within the trial process. Further, for the issue of ‘procedural unfairness’, the court relied on the Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v. Vavilov, 2019 SCC 65, and stated that there are no procedural fairness issues that raise bona fide triable issues in this judicial review. In the next issue of ‘bad faith’, the court relied on the discussion made in G.S.R. Capital Group Inc. v. The City of White Rock, 2020 BCSC 489, where the allegations of illegality and bad faith were considered. The Court, however, found no sufficient evidence to support the bad faith. The Supreme Court of British Columbia thus held that the petitioner had failed to convince that bona fide triable issues existed in the case, therefore, the application had been dismissed.