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February 27, 2013

Amendments to the Minimum Maintenance Standards - Part 3

This week we continue our review of the amendments to the Minimum Maintenance Standards, which came into effect on January 25, 2013.

Part 3:  New Patrolling Requirements
The MMS previously required routine road patrols and, during the winter maintenance season, required additional patrols of representative highways, as necessary, to check for snow and ice.  There has been no change to the routine patrolling requirement but the MMS now provide that if the weather monitoring discussed above indicates that there is a substantial probability of snow accumulation, ice formation or icy roadways, then municipalities must patrol representative highways, at intervals deemed necessary by the municipality, to check for snow and ice.  There is no change to the provision describing what patrolling consists of and by whom it can be done. 

February 20, 2013

Amendments to the Minimum Maintenance Standards - Part 2

This week we continue our review of the amendments to the Minimum Maintenance Standards which came into effect on January 25, 2013.

Part 2: New Requirement to Monitor Weather

The MMS did not previously require weather monitoring, although municipalities generally did so as part of winter maintenance operations.  The MMS now require municipalities to monitor the weather, both current and forecast for the next 24 hours.  From October 1 to April 30, weather must be monitored three or more times per day, at intervals determined by the municipality.  From May 1 to September 30, weather must be monitored once per day.  This amendment is clearly a response to Giuliani, in which the municipality was faulted for failing to monitor the weather and deploy resources in time to avoid the formation of ice on the road. 
The MMS definition of weather as “air temperature, wind and precipitation” tells municipalities what to monitor but the MMS do not state how this is to be done.  In addition, the MMS allow municipalities to determine the intervals at which the weather is monitored.  While these factors will allow monitoring systems to reflect local conditions, including budgetary constraints, we can expect to see claims challenging municipal decisions about the intervals at which weather is monitored and the methods used to do so.

February 13, 2013

Amendments to the Minimum Maintenance Standards - Part 1

The Minimum Maintenance Standards under the Municipal Act, 2001 were amended by Ontario Regulation 47/13, which came into effect on January 25, 2013.  Many of the amendments are a response to the Court of Appeal decision in Giuliani v. Halton (Regional Municipality), [2011] O.J. No. 5845 (C.A.) in which the court’s interpretation of the snow clearing and icy roadways standards limited their use as a defence to civil actions.  The amendments also provide more specific guidance to municipalities whose systems of winter road maintenance are based on the Minimum Maintenance Standards.  

In our next series of posts, we will be reviewing the changes to the MMS.
Part 1: New Definitions Added to Section 1
Section 1 of the MMS now contains the following definitions:
  • “Ice” is defined as “all kinds of ice, however formed”.  Ice was not previously defined.
  • “Snow accumulation” is defined as the natural accumulation of newly-fallen snow, wind-blown snow and/or slush that covers more than half a lane width of a roadway.  This definition was previously contained in the snow accumulation standard in section 4 of the MMS, which has been replaced as discussed below.
  • “Substantial probability” is defined as “a significant likelihood considerably in excess of 51 per cent”.  This definition relates to patrols and maintenance activities that are done in anticipation of snow accumulation or ice formation, discussed below.  This definition may be the subject of debate in future civil cases, as it does not specify how much more than 51 per cent is “considerably in excess”.
  • “Weather” is defined as “air temperature, wind and precipitation”.  Weather was not previously defined.

February 6, 2013

Examination for Discovery: Attendance of Parties

When a party has selected an individual to be examined on behalf of a corporation, is another corporate representative entitled to attend to observe discoveries?

In Cody v. Culley 2013 ONSC 199 (S.C.J.), the issue was whether a corporate representative could attend the examination for discovery of the individual chosen to be examined by the opposing party.  The plaintiffs argued that a corporation cannot have a different representative attend discoveries when the adverse party has selected a representative.  Master Glustein permitted the representative to attend.  A corporation has the right to attend examinations for discovery as an independent legal entity.  The corporate representative chosen by the adverse party is not required to have any decision-making power and a corporation may want someone at the discoveries who can decide litigation issues or at least report back to management for such decisions.  The attendance of such an individual could assist in the settlement process or provide more informed instructions to counsel.  The individual would not be attending to be examined, but to be the person who acts on behalf of the corporation to assist in the litigation decision-making process.

This decision could be useful to those representing corporate entities such as municipalities who wish to have a member of the Corporation observe discoveries to get a sense not only what the evidence might be but also how effective the witness may be.