What Happened to My Application?
**This featured case is one example of the concerns people have brought to us. Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people involved.
Clyde owned a quarter section of land next to an expanding community. He wanted to subdivide the land into lots so he could sell them. He applied to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for approval.
More than a year later, with no decision from the Ministry, he learned that his land was going to be annexed into the neighboring community. As a result, he would have to prepay thousands of dollars per lot if he wished to sub-divide and sell the lots to the general public. Had he known his land would be annexed, his development plans could have been altered. Clyde believed that the Ministry’s slowness in processing his application delayed his development plans. When his inquiries about why his application was not processed in a timely manner to the Ministry went unanswered, Clyde contacted our office.
We found that the delay was due to a drainage issue and that the Ministry was waiting for a response from the community about the matter. Once the land was annexed, the ministry of Municipal Affairs closed the file because the land now fell under the jurisdiction of the municipal government.
The Ministry did not follow its policy to review files every 30 days and notify applicants regularly, so Clyde did not know that his file was being delayed because of a drainage issue. The Ministry also did not impose the 40-day deadline for hearing back from the various organizations that have to respond to queries about the application. Finally, the Ministry did not inform Clyde of their process, so he did not know that if he did not have a response after 90 days, he could consider his application denied and would then have been able to appeal.
While we determined that it would be more appropriate for a court to decide on the financial aspects of this case, we made the following recommendations to prevent similar situations in the future.
That the Ministry reviews all outstanding applications for subdivision approval to ensure that they meet ministry policy and provincial legislation.
That in those instances where a subdivision application does not meet Ministry policy or legislation, steps be taken to advise applicants of the status of their applications and rights of appeal.
That the Ministry provides at the time of application the process that will be followed in assessing the application and the applicant’s rights of appeal.