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Sufficiency of Reasons for SDAB Decisions

The Alberta Court of Appeal has overturned a decision of a Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB).

Cowan v Grande Prairie No 1, 2020 ABCA 399


The Court found the reasons of the SDAB were insufficient.

The SDAB granted a permit to use a home to provide oilfield support services and related outdoor storage of equipment. They did so as a discretionary “Home Occupation, Major” use for that district.

The appellants object to the proposed development saying it would allow an industrial business to operate in a residential neighborhood, contrary to the residential zoning.

The entire reasons were:

“1. The Development Permit meets the requirements of the “Home Occupation, Major” as per ….. the Land Use Bylaw.

2. The applicant to provide storage of overflow equipment at an alternate location.”

The Court pointed out that The Municipal Government Act requires the Board to “give its decision in writing together with reasons for the decision within 15 days after concluding the hearing”: s 687(2). It is therefore recognized that the reasons need not be a work of perfection.”

The Court also noted that “The sufficiency of reasons should be assessed with regard to the three purposes that they serve:

(a) to tell the parties why a decision was made;

(b) to provide public accountability for that decision; and

(c) to permit effective appellate review:

Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v Vavilov2019 SCC 65, at paras 79, 81 [Vavilov]; Mohr v Strathcona (County), 2020 ABCA 187, at para 35.


In setting aside the decision of the Board the court said that “The Board’s reasons are entirely conclusory.”

The case is a reminder to SDABs in Alberta to carefully draft their reasons.

“The Board’s reasons are entirely conclusory.”


brownlee llp, john gescher, municipal, sdab, development, reasons