The City of Pointe-Claire is suing two of its homeowners. The case revolves around a backyard shed. The city only permits one such structure per residential lot. The owners of the house on Prince Edward Ave. have two.
The city has opted to go to court after unsuccessfully trying for two years to come to some agreement with the owners.
OK, having an extra backyard shed is not perhaps a big crime. But it does contravene the city’s zoning and nuisance bylaws. And when negotiation fails, what is left?
The case sparks a new round in a recurring debate: Should a municipality be allowed to sue one of its taxpayers?
The answer to that is clear, in my opinion. Yes, a city should be able to avail itself of the courts to ensure its rules and regulations are upheld. That doesn’t mean it always should, though. There is room for abuse. The financial playing field is skewed in the municipality’s favour. Personality conflicts, grudge matches and power trips can quickly get out of hand, forcing both sides to spend a lot of money over a very petty issue. There needs to be accountability.
Perhaps there needs to some sort of mechanism for towns to adhere to before hiring the services of a legal firm?
Who should have a say when it comes to spending tax money in the courts?
What is your opinion?