Trial Begins May 26, 1993
Attorney General (AG)
The Rowntree Beach Association (RBA) and 14 individual Defendants
In September 1991, approximately 2,000 property owners on the western shore of Tiny Township received a Notice in the mail. Why? Because the Honourable Mr. Justice Trainor of the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division) had ordered the AG to advise property owners that title to their property could be affected by the judgment in the lawsuit AG vs. RBA. An excerpt from the Notice, which was mailed by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), said:
"Although this litigation deals specifically with property located in Lot 18, Concession 11, in the Township of Tiny, similar issues may arise with respect to other property lying between the water's edge of Nottawasaga Bay and the "line of the wood" as depicted on the 1822 Survey, in Concessions 3 to 19 of the Township of Tiny. The decision in this litigation may affect the rights and title of the registered owners of property in these concessions."
The AG vs RBA trial is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, May 26, 1993. A trial is a public hearing. If you are one of the 2,000 recipients of the above notice, you should be aware of the time and place of the trial so you can attend or have someone attend and report to you.
Who is the Plaintiff? Who are the Defendants? What are the Issues?
The AG, acting on behalf of the MNR, is the plaintiff in this case. The AG claims that: (1) there is a line on an 1822 survey map that is the "line of the wood", (2) the "line of the wood" runs from Concession 3 to Concession 19 in the Township of Tiny, (3) depending on the place, the "line of the wood" is located 100 feet to 1000 feet inland from the water's edge, (4) the "line of the wood" is the western boundary of the lots on the shore of the Township of Tiny, and (5) most land in the zone between the water's edge and the "line of the wood" between Concession 3 and Concession 19 is unpatented Crown land, land that has always been owned by the Government of Ontario.
If the Court finds that the "line of the wood" is the boundary, a precedent will be set.
The RBA and 14 individual owners are the defendants. RBA's position is that the boundary of the lots in the original survey of the township is the water's edge.
Where will the trial be held?
The trial will be held before a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division) at the Court House, 361 University Ave., Toronto. It is expected that the trial will last some 4 to 5 weeks. The Court generally sits Monday to Friday, from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. The Court House is a grey stone building on University Ave. just north of Osgoode Hall, (northeast corner of Queen St. and University Ave). The closest subway stop is "Osgoode" on the University line; parking is available at City Hall Square.
For any changes in the court schedule, call 327-5320 (refer to Court File No. Q.50455/90), the trial court office.
What Happens at a Trial?
Counsel for the AG may introduce the plaintiff's case by giving an opening address in which he will set out the plaintiff's case and give a summary of the anticipated evidence. He will then proceed to present evidence by calling witnesses and filing documents. The evidence brought forward by the plaintiff can be questioned on cross-examination by counsel for the defendants.
At the conclusion of the plaintiff's case, the defendants present their evidence. Counsel for the defendants may introduce the defence with an opening address setting out the defendants' case. He will present evidence by calling witnesses and filing documents to support the defendants' position. That evidence can be questioned on cross examination by counsel for the AG.
After all the evidence has been placed before the Court, counsel for the plaintiff and counsel for the defendants will make closing arguments.
The presiding Judge will rule on matters of law throughout the trial. At the end of the trial, he may reserve his decision and, at a later date, provide a written judgement. The reasons for judgement will set out the judge's findings of fact, to those facts he will apply the law, set out his conclusions and the result. The judge will either grant the plaintiff's claim and declare the lands in question to be "unpatented Crown land" or dismiss the plaintiff's lawsuit. Depending on the determination of this issue, other matters relating specifically to the possessory title of the defendants will be determined subsequently.
The Issues before the Court in AG vs RBA case are serious matters for the defendants and for all those potentially affected by the result of the lawsuit (the approximately 2,000 who received the notice in the summer of 1991).
If you received a Notice (or should have received a Notice), you owe it to yourself to attend the trial (or have someone attend for you) and observe the proceedings.