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Land Use Contracts: Good Riddance or Fond Farewell?

Land use contracts, now destined for execution, are double agents. They are creatures of the Legislature, and therefore public law tools, but they masquerade, in more than name alone, as private law instruments. Since the inception of zoning, the subject of land use has been firmly within the grasp of public law regulators; yet the law of contract is quintessential private law. The dual identity of land use contracts may help to explain why they continue, long after the hasty repeal of the provisions enabling their creation, to vex owners subject to their terms, municipalities seeking to administer and enforce them, and courts trying to interpret them when owners and local governments disagree. It also makes land use contracts a helpful case study in the evolution of land use planning law in British Columbia and raises the question whether, when they terminate on date, 2024, those acquainted with them will be cheering good riddance or bidding a fond farewell.

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