The Municipal Government Act (the "MGA") and the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter (the "HRM Charter") permit appeals to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (the "NSUARB" or "Board") from decisions of municipal councils respecting land-use by-law amendments, rezonings and development agreements and from decisions of development officers refusing to issue development permits or to approve plans of subdivision.
In addition to the person who filed the initial application, any "aggrieved person" may appeal the decision of council or the development officer, as the case may be. An "aggrieved person" is defined in the MGA and the HRM Charter, but typically involves an individual or group of individuals who bona fide believes the decision of the council will adversely affect the value, or reasonable enjoyment, of the person's property or the reasonable enjoyment of property occupied by the person(s).
In order to start an appeal, a notice of appeal must be filed with the NSUARB within the strict time limits described in s. 249 of the MGA or s. 264 of the HRM Charter, being within 14 days:
- of publication in the newspaper of notice of council's decision adopting the land-use by-law amendment;
- of publication in the newspaper of notice of council’s decision approving a development agreement (or an amendment thereto);
- of written notice of council's refusal to amend the land-use by-law, its refusal to approve or amend a development agreement, or a development officer's refusal to issue a development permit or to approve a plan of subdivision.
Under the MGA and the HRM Charter, the Board cannot allow an appeal unless it determines that the decision of council does not reasonably carry out the intent of the municipal planning strategy, or that the decision of the development officer conflicts with the provisions of the land-use by-law or the subdivision by-law. All evidence and argument at the hearing must be limited to the issue under review in the appeal. The Board must confirm council's decision if it is based on a reasonable interpretation of the intent of the municipal planning strategy, even if the appellant can identify a different interpretation which is contrary to council's decision.
The NSUARB also hears appeals from decisions of heritage officers or municipal councils relating to heritage properties, under the Heritage Property Act.
The Board’s Municipal Government Act Rules contain a notice of appeal form and outline the requirements relating to practice and procedure for planning appeals to the NSUARB. The Municipal Government Act, the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter, the Heritage Property Act, and the Municipal Government Act Rules can be accessed through Statutes, Rules & Regulations.
The Board has also made provision for Alternative Dispute Resolution ("ADR") in s. 16 of the Municipal Government Act Rules, which describes the conduct of an Informal Settlement Conference. If you wish to explore whether this might be appropriate in your appeal, contact the Clerk of the Board.
For further information on the conduct of an appeal, please visit the Planning User Guide.