A municipality is responsible for keeping the highway in a reasonable state of repair as per s. 44 (1) of the Municipal Act1. This “state of repair” also applies to winter road maintenance of highways. You can win your case if you can prove that a road was not kept in a reasonable state of repair.
What is the condition of non-repair? The Supreme Court defined this condition of non-repair as one that poses a hazard or danger to the reasonable driver exercising ordinary care for his/her own safety2.
The municipality will rely on the Minimum Maintenance Standards (MMS) to defend themselves. Furthermore, the municipalities can still avoid liability by proving that reasonable steps were taken to prevent the condition of non-repair from arising.
The Court of Appeal in Guilliani v. Halton3, said that the road authorities could successfully be sued in the case of failing to take reasonable steps to become aware of the potential for icy conditions to form and failing to prevent the condition. Compliance with MMS made no difference.
In Belanger v. Sudbury (Regional Municipality)4, the municipality was held liable and the Court concluded that the conditions amounted to a state of non-repair. The accident happened at 11:15 a.m., the road was salted at 7:15 a.m., plowed twice between 10:15 a.m. and 11 a.m. The court accepted the opinion that the refreeze occurred after the salt was applied and the snow had bonded to asphalt, making it difficult for plows to remove.
In Mark v. Corporation (City of Guelph)5, the municipality was found liable for helping to create icy roadways. A salt/sand mixture was inappropriately used on the roads during cold and windy conditions. The lapse of time between the spreading of salt on a snow-covered road permitted the melted snow to refreeze in several hours, causing a slippery condition. The Court ruled that even though the municipality had technically complied with s. 5 of the minimum standards, it had created ice on the highways and failed to return in a reasonable time to address its own mistake.
Cases against the municipal authorities are difficult and require experts to prove liability. Not every personal injury law firm can handle a municipal road maintenance case. At MG Law, we have all the necessary skills and resources to handle a case against a municipality.
For your free consultation, please contact us at (613) 730-8460.
Learn more about municipalities’ responsibilities for keeping highways safe.
2 Housen v. Nikolaisen  S.C.C. 33
3 Guilliani v. Halton 2011 ONCA 812
4 Belanger v. Sudbury (Regional Municipality)  O.J. No 6252
5 Mark v. Corporation (City of Guelp) 2012 ONSC 351