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B.C. court finds City of Vernon's arguments 'without merit' in case of 13-month licence delay

The City of Vernon, B.C., is seen in this image from its website. ( The City of Vernon, B.C., is seen in this image from its website. (

A B.C. judge has given the City of Vernon 14 days to make a decision on a business licence application it has left pending without explanation for more than a year.

Landowner Yuri Alexander Bos submitted two applications to the city on Jan. 9, 2023. The applications were for business licences that would allow him to operate outdoor storage facilities on two adjacent properties he owns on 34 Street in the city.

According to B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Wilkinson's decision – which was issued Monday and posted online Tuesday – Bos submitted two separate applications because he was told to do so by city staff. He had previously submitted a single application for both properties. 

When Bos submitted the separate applications, a city staff member told him he'd receive an answer in "approximately two weeks," according to the decision.

More than a month later, on Feb. 26, 2023, Bos had received no such response. On that date, the decision indicates, he visited the city's office in person and inquired about the status of the applications. He was told they were still under consideration and that processing times are typically two to four weeks.

It wasn't until May 26, 2023, that a business licence was issued for one of the two properties, referred to throughout the decision as "4604." Bos never received a decision on the other application, referred to as "4600."

He filed his petition for judicial review of the city's licensing approval process in November 2023, and Wilkinson held a hearing on the matter earlier this month.

"As of the hearing of the petition, March 4, 2024, the petitioner has not received any update to the status of the application with regard to 4600," the decision reads.

City submissions 'without merit'

Bos filed his petition for judicial review seeking an order of "mandamus" – essentially a court order compelling a government official to take or refrain from taking an action – requiring the city to approve his application.

The city, in its response to Bos' filing, claimed that his petition was "deficient" and left the city "guessing about the case it has to meet," according to Wilkinson's decision.

The judge rejected this submission, describing it as "without merit."

"Not only has the city filed a comprehensive response to the petition, it has also addressed the claims of the petitioner based on the merits of the petition," the decision reads. "This is not a case where the petitioner has not properly identified the legal basis for the relief sought."

The city also argued that Bos had not exhausted all of the alternative remedies available to him before filing his petition, an argument Wilkinson similarly found meritless.

According to the decision, the city claimed Bos should have filed a request for Vernon city council to reconsider a decision to refuse a business licence.

"The city completely ignores the fact that no decision has been made with respect to the petitioner’s business licence application for 4600," the decision reads. "At no time prior to the hearing of the petition did the city seek clarification of the claims. (City planning staff member) Mr. Nuriel, who provided an affidavit in support of the city’s response, fails to mention the existence of the application for 4600 or any reason for why the city has not made a decision."

The judge concluded the city's delay was unreasonable and an order of mandamus was the appropriate remedy, but she stopped short of ordering the city to approve the licence.

Rather, Wilkinson ordered the city to make a decision on the outstanding application within 14 days of her decision. If the decision it makes is to refuse the licence, it must provide reasons for doing so.

The judge dismissed Bos' claim for monetary damages, because the provincial Judicial Review Procedure Act – which governs the judicial review process – does not allow for such awards.

Wilkinson did opt to order the city to pay Bos' court costs, however. Top Stories

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