The City of Winnipeg passed a by-law permitting companies to erect high rise apartments in a certain area. Welbridge was incorporated after this by-law was passed, and made plans to build apartments in the area and acquired some land in this area approximately 16 months later. The by-law was struck down by the courts as not being valid. Welbridge sued stating the city was negligent in passing an invalid by-law.
- Does the fact that a company did not exist when a by-law was passed mean that it cannot have been owed a duty of care?
A municipality is different in kind from the same municipality at the legislative or quasi-judicial level where it is exercising discretionary statutory authority. In exercising such authority, a municipality may act beyond its powers in the ultimate view of a Court, albeit it acted on the advice of counsel. It would be incredible to say in such circumstances that it owed a duty of care giving rise to liability in damages for its breach. Laskin noted, however, that if the City had owed a duty of care to a class of persons, they would not be excluded simply for not having existed when the by-law was passed.
If a duty of care is owed to a class of people, then a specific individual will not be excluded from that class simply because they did not exist at the time of the negligent act.