Business Regulation: How Far Can You Go?

In 1994 in a case that raised the scope of the municipal power to regulate businesses under the Municipal Act, Madam Justice Southin put forward, somewhat provocatively, the following:

During the course of argument, I raised from the bench the question of whether, by section 528, the Legislature intended to empower a municipality to fix the price of any article of commerce, in which term I include services including tow truck services.

Upon reflection, I do not consider it necessary to address that issue because the appellant’s case, as it was put before the court below and in its factum on this appeal, does not raise it. That issue must be left for another day.

This paper will discuss the reach of the municipal business regulation power, and the limitations placed on that power by the Community Charter and the case law. Is the power to regulate business robust enough to support municipal price regulation or other such bold initiatives? Or is the municipal business regulation authority rather more modest?

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