More Lawyers, More Costs, More Secrecy

Dumpster fireMonday night, council will once again scurry behind closed doors like cockroaches to avoid the light of public scrutiny to hear yet another virtual presentation from lawyers about the Saunderson Vindictive Judicial Inquiry (aka the SVJI). And, of course, it will cost the taxpayers again to help The Great Leader pursue his personal vendetta against councillors and staff who countered his ambition, nearly a decade ago.

The final report for the SVJI was released in early November, 2019, 20 months ago. The events it examined are nine and ten years old. A police investigation opened in 2013 never found any criminal activity or charged anyone involved. And yet our council continues to obsess over the SVJI, and lavishes our money on going over it again and again and again and again and again.

The first such virtual presentation cost taxpayers $17,297.48 for just one meeting. The second virtual presentation cost taxpayers another $15,000. The third one will cost at least as much as the latter, but likely more. And for what? To make lawyers richer at taxpayers’ expense.

These costs come on top of more than $10 million already wasted on the SVJI since 2015. Yet our council continues to lavish money on the SVJI despite the fact the public doesn’t give a damn about it, only about the mounting costs. And, boy, do they continue to mount!

This meeting is expected to give council a choice of less-than-savoury lawyers collectively known as ambulance chasers so the town can sue people who have committed no crimes. Why? Simply to accommodate their Great Leader’s demand to punish people who thwarted him in 2012 by refusing to give the YMCA a $35 million handout and build a recplex for them (the Y has paid no municipal taxes since 1967 and pays only $1 a year to lease the town land they sit on).

The rationale for the proposed lawsuits is to “recover” some of the SVJI’s costs, although everyone knows the responsibility for those costs rests on the five on the previous council who voted for it. They knew full well the costs would balloon, and were warned that they would skyrocket into the millions of dollars. Those five are former councillor Ecclestone, current councillors Jeffrey, Doherty, and Madigan, and then-deputy mayor Saunderson. They are collectively responsible for the costs, but, like all bullies and cowards, refuse to accept their role, and instead blame others.

And, along with most of the newcomers on council, they refuse to move on, refuse to focus their attention on current town issues and problems. They simply won’t do the job they were elected to do because they are so obsessed with the SVJI. They ignored the town’s water plant issues for two years, let a crucial pipeline contract expire, created a “water crisis” by their neglect, then responded with a job-growth-and-revenue-killing bylaw that halted all new construction here for the next four years.

Streets are crumbling, sidewalks decaying, parks look shabby, the terminals continue to fall apart, lampposts rot, traffic problems mount, businesses and workers hurt by 18 months of pandemic lockdowns suffered without financial support from the town. But more than $10 million went towards the SVJI.

Of course, the town will later be saddled with countersuits which will cost taxpayers millions more. All because one man’s ambitions were thwarted in 2012. (see comments, below)

Inept? Bungling? Irresponsible? Immature? You may think so, but they’re still going at it, lavishing taxpayers’ money on the SVJI, trying to please their Great Leader by their diligent loyalty.  They have abandoned their responsibilities, and their oaths of office.

But Saunderson’s not even going to be here in a year: he’s been appointed (in violation of democratic principles) the riding’s candidate for Conservative MPP and he plans to be out of here before he even finishes his term (and his commitment to serve), leaving the rest to take the blame for this dumpster fire of a term.

And the lawyers will laugh all the way to the bank. Again.

Collingwood deserves better.

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3 Comments

  1. And all this nonsense will backfire on the town because, thanks to the indemnification bylaw recently passed to protect themselves from lawsuits over the ICBL (it protects councillors from the cost of lawsuits by having taxpayers shoulder them instead), any lawsuits against former or sitting councillors and town staff will be paid by the town! So this is like suing themselves!

    See:

    https://collingwood.civicweb.net/document/72550/C2021-07%20Enactment%20of%20Indemnification%20By-law.pdf?handle=C0F1DFE258584E25A291B1648E7C396F

    Subject to section 14 of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, the payment of any damages or costs awarded against any of its employees, members, former employees or former members or expenses incurred by them as a result of any action or other proceeding arising out of acts or omissions done or made by them in their capacity as employees or members, including while acting in the performance of any statutory duty.

  2. Collingwood

    The Notes to the Town’s 2020 Statements include Note 19 and Note 20.

    19. COMMITMENTS
    On February 26, 2018 Council of the Town of Collingwood passed a resolution to request a judicial inquiry be conducted into the process undertaken in 2012 which resulted in the sale of 50% of Collus, the Municipality’s electric utility. The estimated cost of the inquiry was between $1.4 million and $1.6 million. To the end of 2020, $8,201,697 (2019 – $6,245,218) was spent, with a further $100,000 budgeted for 2021

    If the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry essentially concluded with the release of the Report in Nov. 2019, how does this represent a (future financial) commitment?

    20. SUBSEQUENT EVENTS
    At the Council meeting held April 26, 2021 Collingwood Town Council approved Staff Report P2021-12 Interim Control By-Law & Land Use Planning Policy Study and associated Interim Control By-Law (ICBL) BL2021-024. The effects of the ICBL on the Town’s finances are unknown at this time. An ICBL is a tool provided by the Ontario Planning Act that effectively allows a municipality to halt development while it manages an identified issue. The cause of the ICBL is due to the current constraints on water capacity. A new Water Treatment Plant will be constructed to increase capacity but will not be completed until 2025

    Are the effects truly unknown at this time? Is the stated cause false and misleading?

    Will the Ontario Ombudsman’s investigation shed any light on the dark meetings of February 26 2018 and June 11 2018?

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