Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla sent an email to the other members of Council this morning to advise that he will be bringing forward a notice of motion to have the City publicly release "all costs related to the [Red Hill Valley] Expressway lawsuit against the Federal Government of Canada."
This latest attempt to drop the seven-year-old city lawsuit against the Federal government comes right after Justice Peter Hambly rejected the city's attempt to have the court accept the city's claim that federal staff and politicians knew their attempt to subject the Red Hill Valley Parkway to an Environmental Assessment violated federal rules.
The City first launched the $75 million lawsuit against the Federal Government in 2004 on a claim that the government conspired to block the expressway.
When Council voted to launch the suit, they also instructed city staff to report regularly on the cost of the lawsuit. However, council overturned that decision [PDF] in 2008 on the basis of "solicitor-client privilege", at the same time that they voted to lift the projected $450,000 budget limit.
According to a November 2007 update [PDF], the city had spent $243,224.03 to the end of September 2007.
CATCH has a transcript of the Committee of the Whole meeting. According to city solicitor Peter Barkwill, "Invoices we received from our counsel are privileged matters and should not be discussed in public."
Councillors Brad Clark, Chad Collins, Scott Duvall, Lloyd Ferguson, Tom Jackson, Robert Pasuta, David Mitchell and Maria Pearson voted to continue the lawsuit. Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Councillors Bob Bratina, Brian McHattie, Sam Merulla, Russ Powers and Terry Whitehead voted to drop it.
Council reconsidered the issue in November 2009 but voted again to continue with the lawsuit and to keep the legal costs secret. Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Councillors Bob Bratina, Brian McHattie, Sam Merulla, and Terry Whitehead voted to drop it.
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