Waterloo forced to reveal legal costs

Can pier legals likewise be released?

Waterloo forced to reveal legal costs - should we do the same for Burlington's pier?
Waterloo forced to reveal legal costs – should we do the same for Burlington’s pier?

The city of Waterloo has been forced by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario to publicly release the amount of its legal costs in an ongoing legal battle over the financing for a park development. Until now, officials have insisted costs would only be willingly disclosed once the lawsuits are settled.

A resident gave me a copy of the news article about the case at our Ward 2 Citizens Advisory Committee last week.

“Just change the word ‘park’ for ‘pier’,” she said, advocating for voluntary release of our own legal bill on the pier design dispute.

Waterloo argued that providing simple dollar figures would undermine its chances in the legal case, violate solicitor-client privilege, and arm its opponents with valuable information. The same arguments are used for not revealing the pier legal costs.

“A three-judge panel soundly rejected that position,” states the article, after the dispute ended up in divisional court.

Waterloo also argued at one point that revealing its legal costs could spark public pressure to settle the lawsuits.

The city spent seven years and $126,000 fighting the Freedom of Information request filed by The Waterloo Region Record that led to the forced release of the legal tab.

Read the article here.

For more information about Freedom of Information requests visit here. . They can be filed by filling out a form along with a small fee.

Contact information at the City is as follows:

Clerk’s Department
426 Brant Street, PO Box 5013
Burlington, ON
L7R 3Z6
Phone: 905-335-7600 ext. 7701
Fax: 905-335-7881

My take: Given this ruling, I support the city voluntarily releasing its legal fees, and immediately releasing the value of staff time spent on this project.

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward
Please check out the articles covering issues that you’ve told me matter to you. I value your feedback on them because it informs the decisions I make. If you want to let me or others know about concerns or events in your neighbourhood, please get in touch.

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  1. The only jeopardy, from the City’s perspective, is for its rate payers to have a full understanding of the  total costs. to continue with the pier or cancel. As far as I can comprehend , the only significant factor is the bruised egos of a handful of councillors who have been pushing completion of this costly fiasco.

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