Ottawa city councilors are cautioned that a judicial investigation into the city’s turbulent light rail transit system could be a significant waste of resources and is only one option for getting answers to the project’s shortcomings while the council is prepare to consider convening one next week.
City attorney David White sent a memo ahead of Wednesday’s city council meeting outlining what a judicial investigation into the Confederation Line LRT could entail, given fervent calls for accountability over the troubled system after it derailed twice in the span of six weeks and remains out. on duty for the long weekend.
Councilors Catherine McKenney and Carol Anne Meehan have a motion at the Oct. 13 city council meeting calling for a judicial investigation into the $ 2.1 billion Confederation Line LRT.
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A judicial investigation involves asking a Superior Court of Justice judge to investigate a matter of public interest, such as a possible breach of contract or misconduct in the government. It would involve the compilation of relevant documents and public hearings for the key people involved in the investigation, with a final report outlining the judge’s findings.
But in White’s memo, he offers words of caution that a judicial investigation might not give the council the answers it wants and could end up being a significant waste of city resources.
The city pays the bill for any potential judicial investigation, the costs of which can run into the millions of dollars depending on the scope of the work. White describes a number of recent and ongoing court investigation costs in his memo, ranging from just $ 3.8 million to nearly $ 20 million.
“The municipality pays all costs associated with a judicial investigation, although it has no control over the process or scope once the investigation is established,” writes White.
Those dollar figures also relate to direct cost only, not staff hours required to retrieve documents and productivity losses in other parts of the organization due to diverted attention, the city attorney noted.
There is no set timeline for when a judicial investigation would conclude, White said. He pointed to the investigation into Red Hill Valley Parkway in Hamilton started in 2019 that he has yet to call witnesses.
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Citing legal briefs in the Hamilton investigation, White wrote that court investigations are suitable for “large-scale complex investigations,” but also suggested that they are not the only option for obtaining liability around Ottawa’s LRT system.
He said an investigation by the auditor general, the integrity commissioner or the provincial ombudsman could produce “potentially more specific” investigations into any possible misconduct at the project, though he offered no suggestions as to which of these options would be more suitable for the LRT. . Investigation.
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“The significant costs and commitment of time and resources associated with a judicial investigation are factors that deserve careful consideration,” White wrote in conclusion.
McKenney responded against the memorandum’s suggestions, tweeting Thursday that residents deserve a judicial investigation to understand how their tax dollars were spent.
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