“Sprinter” hit us this weekend. The ice storm in Toronto and the surrounding areas has resulted in cold, snow and ice. These conditions unfortunately increase the number of incidents occurring on municipal property, such as slip and falls on the sidewalk.
Section 44(10) of the Municipal Act, 2001, mandates that when an incident occurs on municipal property, the municipality must receive notification within 10 business days. Failure to provide proper notice within the 10-day time limit can act as a bar to any potential claim against the municipality. An injured party should immediately seek legal counsel to ensure that the strict timelines and requirements are properly met.
It is important to note that this 10-day notice period does not only apply in the winter. It applies all year long for negligence on municipal property. For example, if there is a trip and fall due to a crack in the municipal sidewalk, or a height differential between sidewalk pavers, notice must be provided.
Once notice is given, there is no requirement to start a lawsuit. However, it does allow individuals further time to decide if they wish to do so. All civil actions against a municipality remain subject to the Limitations Act. That is, all lawsuits must be commenced within two years of discovering the cause of action.
Section 44(12) of the Municipal Act does provide an exception to the 10-day notice period. The exception requires that the individual provide a “reasonable excuse” for the delay and that the municipality not be prejudiced by the failure to give notice.
What constitutes a “reasonable excuse” has been addressed by the Court of Appeal in the case of Crinson v. City of Toronto, where it was found that an individual being so incapacitated as to be unable to provide notice constitutes a reasonable excuse. This may include an individual who suffers a severe injury requiring hospitalization, surgery, and/or the use of medication.
In the event that the 10-day deadline has expired, notice should still be provided to the municipality as soon as possible.
Individuals are strongly urged to retain legal counsel at the earliest opportunity to ensure that notice is sent to the proper municipality, and that it is sent within the proper timelines and in the appropriate format.
 Limitations Act, 2002, SO 2002, C. 24, Sch B.
 Crinson v. City of Toronto, 2010 ONCA 44 (OCA); Giuliani v. The Regional Municipality of Halton, 2010 ONSC 4630 (CanLII).