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Report on disclosing pier’s legal fees

Burlington pier legal fees
In a recent case, the city of Waterloo was required by the Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario, upheld by a three-judge divisional court panel, to disclose legal fees up to January of this year, in an ongoing legal battle over RIM Park financing. The city has already been forced by the Commission to release legal costs between 2004 and 2008. Read more here and here.

My Take: I have long advocated that in the interest of accountability and transparency, we should be disclosing to taxpayers legal fees spent on items of public interest, such as the pier litigation. It’s been a matter of public debate whether disclosing current legal fees or future legal budgets reveal a legal strategy and prejudice a municipality’s case. However, as a first step I’m interested in exploring incremental release of previous legal fees, for example fees from, say, two years ago. This could allow reasonable, annual disclosure of fees during lengthy legal proceedings without suggesting future legal strategy.

Your view: What do you think? Should the city reveal legal expenses – all of them including future budgets? Previous expenses only? None? Email me at meedwardm@burlington.ca or leave a comment below.

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

3 Comments

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  1. What is the rationale in keeping legal fees a secret? Is it  not our tax dollars? I think the good citizens of Burlington would be floored if they were to find out what we are paying for. A neverending pier project and suit. A losing battle against Nelson’s quarry. The list goes on and on. Time to open the books, in my humble opinion.

  2. You mean expenditures of public funds are secret….like in those places we are quick to label corrupt?  Of course the fees should be disclosed….and the name of those who approved the expenditure. There needs to be accountability.

  3. I strongly concur that city legal fees be disclosed in a phased-in approach that would eventually lead to full disclosure of legal fees paid each year after the year is complete.  The whole process of planning and paying legal fees should not be shrouded in secrecy.  Everyone realizes that legal fees exist and must be budgeted each year.  The historical pattern of payment is of interest to all taxpayers and and the fear of budget/payment history tipping our hand is a red herring as I see it.

    Gary Scobie 

What's your take?