In a recent case, a group of residents attempted to argue that an inspection by building officials authorized by the Building Code Act should not be permitted as the inspection would violate their Charter rights.
The facts of the case are pretty straightforward. In 2006 an addition was built at the rear of a house in Toronto without a building permit and in violation of the zoning by-law regarding size and setbacks. After six years of litigation, the daughter finally consented to an order requiring her to obtain a building permit, failing which the City could demolish the addition at her expense. A building permit was issued and since that time the City had been attempting to conduct inspections of the addition, to no avail.
The City brought an application seeking an order authorizing it to inspect the addition. This order was granted, but eventually appealed by the property owners.
On appeal, it was argued that the parents (co-owners with the daughter) were in frail health and to allow the City to carry out an inspection may further imperil their health and put their lives at risk, in violation of their Charter rights.
This was not accepted by the court. If anything, the City was attempting to see to the security of the parents as occupants of the building. There was no reason why the City’s actions in conducting the inspection would be carried out in a fashion that would endanger the lives of the parents.
A person cannot violate the law on the one hand and then, when remedial action needs to be taken as a direct result of illegal acts, claim that the remedial action violates their rights. If that were the case, in a situation like this a municipality could effectively be prohibited from acting to ensure the safety of the public from illegal building activities.