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Line Fences - 'The Mess'

. Yuan v. Matsuura

In Yuan v. Matsuura (Div Court, 2023) the Divisional Court considered (in only 11-paragraphs) what can only be described as an 'Ontario line fences legal mess'. The City - and I expect many other municipalities in Ontario for reasons of economy - has 'opted-out' of the Line Fences Act (LFA) by use of LFA s.26 (and here, the City of Toronto Act s.109) by virtue of Toronto By-law 641-2018 [which opts out of the LFA, except for a provision which requires owners of former railway lines to maintain fences]. As the court here describes it, this left Toronto line fences law in a situation where "it is not clear where legal authority would lie for a court to order one neighbour to contribute to the costs of a boundary fence constructed by the other neighbour" - a key aspect of line fences law specifically addressed in the LFA (and likely a key reason for it's original existence).

This essentially left the Small Claims Court here with the remaining (and not unsubstantial) wisdom of the common law. So, facing an appeal from a ruling that essentially (and - but for this jurisdictional problem, quite sensibly) applied substantive LFA law, the Divisional Court (Corbett J) realized this mess and ordered a re-hearing and amended claim pleadings presumably to give the plaintiff 'another chance' (which very likely will reside in trespass law and, I suspect - in easement law as well).

I view this case as a (primarily Ontario-level) failure to address this often confrontational area of law, one which - ironically - I chose as my first 'Guide' in this Isthatlegal website, which is devoted to explaining the law to lay people in light of the massive expense to legal services in what I have always thought was a grotesquely difficult legal system.


The author has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this Isthatlegal.ca webpage.

Last modified: 01-12-23
By: admin