Human Rights--Section 8 and Discrimination Regarding Accommodation #394

Apr 01, 2006

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By Gerry Neely
B.A. LL.B.

(continued from Legally Speaking 393)

The obligation to accommodate the needs of a disabled person was applied in a Nova Scotia case where the complainant sought accommodation in a mobile home park. He could not walk further than 25 feet and used a scooter and wheelchair to move about. He needed a 10 x 14 foot shed for his scooter, trailer attachment, charger and space to transfer to his wheelchair. He found a mobile home that suited his needs, provided he could enlarge the existing shed, and applied to the park manager for approval as a tenant.

When he indicated he wanted to increase the length of the shed to 14 feet, the manager stated that park rules only allowed 10 x 10 foot sheds. Two months later, the manager offered to allow this extension, but the disabled man declined because of the expensive commitments he had made to renovate his existing property--commitments made with the belief that the shed extension was prohibited.

The evidence at his complaint hearing indicated the park rules were not consistently enforced and, as such, there were many infractions. One MLS® listing of park-owned property included a 12 x 12 foot shed. The park manager conceded that granting the extension request would not create hardship for the park owners. The tenant received damages of $10,000.1

BC Human Rights Code, section 9 and discrimination re purchase of real property

This section prohibits discrimination against a person who wants to buy a commercial unit, dwelling unit, land or an interest in land, or because of a term or condition of the purchase.

In one case, the member of a co-op residential building denied a potential tenant the opportunity to purchase shares, which would've entitled him to a dwelling unit, because of his sexual orientation. While no outright objection was made, several factors led the tribunal to conclude sexual orientation was the reason, including the lengthy delay in considering the application, the financial records of the complainant, failing to give any reason for the denial, failing to disclose documents and destroying or losing documents that might have contained the reasons.2

The circumstances in which developers innocently discriminated against mentally handicapped persons are worth reading in Legally Speaking 229. The developers had created a residential subdivision with a typical building scheme restricting commercial uses. The developers discriminated against four physically and mentally handicapped persons when they rejected an offer made on behalf of the handicapped persons to purchase a lot for a group home because they thought the use was prohibited by the restrictive covenant. This reason prevailed over the business objections they had to the lengthy periods of time for removal of conditions.

The prohibited grounds of discrimination are "race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation or sex of that person or persons." Family status, age or lawful sources of income are added to these in s. 10, which concerns discrimination in tenancy premises.

  1. Matthews v. Westphal Mobile Home Court (Ltd), {2005} N.S.H.R.B.I.D No. 6.
  2. Outingdyke v. Irving Apartment and others, 2005 BCHRT 443.

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