The BC Supreme Court recently dismissed a petition brought by an unincorporated group of citizens and 19 individuals, challenging a School District’s closure of a school gymnasium and auditorium building.
The petition was brought after the Board of Education decided to close the buildings which formed part of a secondary school site. The petitioners alleged that the entire redevelopment process was flawed. They also claimed that what was proposed was a school closure within the meaning of a Ministerial Order under the School Act, obligating the School District to follow a consultation process and policy mandated by the order. In the alternative, the petitioners said they were entitled to a level of procedural fairness which had not been provided.
The Court dismissed the petitioners’ application on the basis that the unincorporated group of citizens and individuals did not have standing to bring the petition. The Court found that the unincorporated association could not sue or be sued in its own name. In addition, the individuals involved did not have standing to bring the petition since the decision to demolish the gym and the auditorium did not affect any of their rights or special interests.
On the issue of school closure, the Court found that the closure of school buildings did not amount to the closure of a school as set out in the Ministerial Order. The Court held that a “school closure” contemplates the permanent reassignment of students from one school to another which would be disruptive to the students and require an amount of readjustment. The Court went on to say that, even if the School District had owed the petitioners a duty of procedural fairness, that duty had been fulfilled.