Liz Marshall addressed a crowd of local property owners at a Renfrew Landowners Association

By Tina Peplinskie
Feb 22, 2013

Liz MarshallCOBDEN - Municipal officials are being misinformed by their advisors when it comes to the copious amounts of legislation they are supposed to be familiar with.

This according to Liz Marshall, head researcher for the Ontario Landowners Association (OLA), who recently spoke to municipal representatives during an educational seminar held in Cobden. Officials from 11 of the 17 municipalities in Renfrew County attended the meeting.

Marshall has made it her life’s work to read and study legislation and write reports. According to Marshall, there are 72 pieces of provincial and federal legislation that could potentially impact municipalities. There are so many pieces of legislation that one person cannot possibly be familiar enough with the intricacies of each one.

“You are not receiving all of the information you are supposed to be,” she told those gathered in the hall of the Astrolabe Arena. “But it isn’t just you that aren’t receiving the information, your staff isn’t receiving the proper information either. You as elected officials cannot make decisions unless they are made in bad faith.”

“The onus is on elected officials and staff to make sure you know and understand the legislation that will affect the municipality,” Marshall added.

The information session was organized by the Renfrew Landowners Association (RLA) in conjunction with the OLA.

After hearing Marshall speak last November, the local landowners association felt it was necessary to share the information and research done by the expert.

“We wanted to provide the tools and guidelines and make them aware of what we’ve learned,” explained Donna Burns, president of the RLA.

After reading 387 pages of the Ontario Municipal Act plus the planning and the building codes, Marshall identified many conflicts and contradictions between other existing acts and regulations.

In her opinion, our elected officials have been unfairly misled by their advisors. Realizing that our elected officials are inundated with documents, regulations and legislation the landowners offered to share their knowledge and information that puts the municipalities at risk of civil litigation.

Marshall prepared a take-away document for the attendees which could be used as a reference at their own municipalities.

Burns was pleased with the positive feedback she received at the conclusion of the seminar, which also included an opportunity to network with those in attendance. She said many felt they had their eyes opened by this information and were looking forward to sharing it with their fellow councillors.

This past year, Marshall was elected to the board of directors of the Canadian Justice Review Board due to studying various pieces of legislation and uncovering a number of conflicts in certain acts, as well as her knowledge of property rights and letters patents. She has worked closely with Ottawa lawyer Terrence Green and together they have created several reports for the landowners and the municipalities.

Members of the public have also expressed a great interest in this seminar so the Renfrew Landowners Association will be holding a public meeting tonight, Friday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. upstairs at the Astrolabe Arena in Cobden. Both Liz Marshall and Jeff Bogaerts, president of the Lanark Landowners Association will be the guest speakers at this meeting.

Tina Peplinskie is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

Twitter: @TPeplinskieOBS




Ontario Landowners Association researcher Liz Marshall addressing a crowd of local property owners at a Renfrew Landowners Association event in Cobden on Friday night, Feb. 22. For more community photos please visit our website photo gallery at

For Liz Marshall, head researcher with the Ontario Landowners Association, information is king, and once you have it, as a private landowner, all that's left is for you to pick your battles.

That was the basic message of her address at an event in Cobden on Friday, Feb. 22 hosted by the Renfrew Landowners Association, as she consistently reiterated her encyclopedic knowledge of Canadian and Ontario statutes that affect, directly or indirectly, the rights and freedoms of private property holders in the province.

Amid a flurry of references to bits of legislation, obscure and renowned alike, the repeated refrain she echoed during her speech and in response to questions was that unless you know exactly what you own, and on what conditions, you really can't properly defend yourself or your property.

Despite being in a room full of soon-to-be admirers, Marshall struck an almost combative tone as she recounted various injustices that she has come across during her involvement with the OLA, and underscored also the importance of being politically active to ensure that elected officials don't overstep their legal rights when it comes to making policy that affects the private property of their constituents.

For instance, according to Marshall, the first part of section 14 of Ontario's Municipal Act, says that a bylaw has no power if it runs contrary to a piece of federal or provincial legislation, or if it attempts to counter "an instrument of a legislative nature, including an order, licence or approval, made or issued under a provincial or federal Act or regulation."

This last clause, says Marshall, included original title deeds and letters patent pertaining to private property.

Under that interpretation, some township bylaws pertaining to property maintenance, tree cutting or other restrictions/demands on private property owners would actually be illegal, and would carry no wait, she explained.

At the end of the meeting, Marshall left the crowd with a shopping list of documents that she felt they needed to get their hands on in order to be best equipped to protect their property, including letters patent, a complete title search dating back to the original Crown grant of the land, the original survey documents from when the patent was issued, the original surveyor's notes, and any and all deeds to the property in question.

Ryan Paulsen is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist