Finding the Line for Occupier’s Liability: Responsibility of Occupiers for Natural Hazards on their Premises

  • February 02, 2024
  • Thomas Russell - Stieber Berlach

A recent decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Lyng v. Ontario Place Corporation, 2024 provides useful guidance on the responsibility of occupiers for natural hazards on their premises.[1]

This case involved an unfortunate accident at Ontario Place almost 8 years ago. While leaving a concert hosted by Ontario Place, a young man injured himself on a slippery hill while trying to leave the premises.[2] A decision of whether or not Ontario Place was liable to the young man was just released by the Ontario Court of Appeal this month. The decision of the court provides keen insights to the responsibility of entities like Ontario Place while hosting events under the Occupier’s Liability Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.O.2.[3]

The Facts

The day was July 14, 2016. It had recently rained over Ontario place, and the premises were particularly slippery.[4] Ontario Place was hosting a concert, which brought a large crowd of concertgoers, and an appreciable amount of alcohol consumption.

When the concert had wrapped up and it was time to direct people out, a considerable number of the concertgoers proceeded to a pedestrian bridge connecting Ontario Place to the nearest train station.[5]

Within this crowd was the plaintiff, who, like many of the concertgoers, had consumed alcohol.[6] Importantly, the plaintiff was also wearing flip flops as footwear.[7]

However, the pedestrian bridge was closed. Ontario Place had two security guards blocking anyone from entering.[8] Right beside the entrance to the bridge was a slippery hill, providing another way forward for these concertgoers.[9] The Plaintiff then proceeded down the hill, where he fell and sustained a serious knee injury requiring surgery.[10]