BC Court of Appeal Discusses the Unique Limitation Periods in Local Government Act
Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Court of Appeal discussing the unique nature of the notice limitation period for suing local governments.
In today’s case (Anonson v. North Vancouver) the Plaintiff was injured when her bicycle was struck by a truck. After starting a lawsuit she obtained an order allowing her to add the City of North Vancouver as a Defendant. The City was never given notice under the 2 month provisions required by the Local Government Act. The question was whether the City could rely on this defense after being added to the lawsuit because ” It is settled law that the addition of a party to an action pursuant to R. 6-2(7) of the SCCR on the basis that it is “just and convenient” to do so generally will engage s. 4(1) of the Limitation Act and eliminate a party’s accrued limitation defence”
The Court of Appeal held that the notice limitation period is unique from the Limitation Act and a local government can indeed still take advantage of this defense even after being added as a party to an existing lawsuit. In reaching this conclusion the Court of Appeal reasoned as follows:
 In British Columbia, notice provisions for local government have been interpreted as substantially different from limitation period provisions. The Legislature chose to treat local government differently from other litigants by requiring that local government be given notice within a short period following an incident to allow the City to investigate the potential claim.
 Unlike the Limitation Act, s. 736 of the LGA (and the former notice provisions in s. 286 of the LGA and s. 755 of the Municipal Act) are not akin to a lapse of time in which to bring an action. The notice provisions do not function in the same way as limitation period provisions for the following reasons: (1) non-compliance with s. 736 of the LGA or its predecessors does not prevent a plaintiff from commencing or maintaining an action; (2) unlike the more objective language of s. 4(1) of the Limitation Act, the discretionary saving provision of s. 736(3) may or may not act as a bar to an action; and (3) the trial or appeal court must determine whether the discretionary saving provision applies based on the evidentiary record.
 The notice provisions of the current and former legislation have never been captured by s. 4(1) of the Limitation Act when a party is added to an action because the trial or appeal court must first determine whether the saving provision applies. Neither Bannon, which interprets differently worded legislation, nor Neilson, which assumes that s. 4(1) of the Limitation Act is engaged, are applicable to this issue.