The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal this week from the Quebec Court of Appeal in Immeubles Jacques Robitaille inc. v. Québec (City)2014 SCC 34. The appellant developer had challenged an offence notice issued by the municipality for permitting or tolerating non-conforming parking use contrary to the municipality’s zoning and planning by-law. The developer, in challenging the notice, relied in part on acquired rights based on the use of the parking lot. The question that was raised was whether the doctrine of estoppel could be pleaded by a defendant in penal proceedings dealing with an application of a provision of a municipal zoning by-law.

In dismissing the appeal, the Supreme Court reviewed the test for promissory estoppel in public law but went on to say that the doctrine of estoppel must yield to an overriding public interest and cannot be invoked to challenge the application of a specific provision in the law.