Judicial inquiry into LRT would cost city money, time and resources: Ottawa City Solicitor

By Victoria Williston

Ottawa's city solicitor has issued a memo outlining the costs and timeline of a judicial review of the Confederation Line.

At the next city council meeting on Wednesday, October 13, a motion brought forward by councillors Carol Anne Meehan and Catherine McKenney, calling for a judicial inquiry into the contracts and management of the LRT system will be discussed and voted on.

However, in a memo to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and members of council, David White outlines the potential cost and timeline of a judicial inquiry, while also pointing out other potential possibilities.

In the memo, White reminds council that a judicial inquiry can be very expensive and they do not make determinations of criminal or civil legal liability.

“The significant costs associated with the municipal judicial inquiries that have taken place in Ontario were outlined in staff's February 2020 Response. A summary of those is set out below and updated where more recent figures have been made available.”

Region of Waterloo Inquiry
Cost: $3.8 million, Duration: 1.5 years

City of Toronto Judicial Inquiry
Cost: $19.2 million, Duration 3.5 years

Mississauga Judicial Inquiry
Cost: $7.5 million, Duration: 1.5 years

Collingwood Judicial Inquiry
Cost: ~$8.2 million (as of August 2021), Duration: 2.5 years

City of Hamilton Judicial Inquiry
Cost: ~$6.6 million, Duration – commenced April 2019 and ongoing
* most recent cost estimate to completion is $10-$12 million

“It important to note that the cost summaries set out above include only the direct costs to the municipalities of their respective inquiries.”

White also says there are other methods to investigate, including integrity commissioners, ombudsmen and auditors general. He adds the cost, time and resources needed for a judicial inquiry are all factors which require careful consideration before calling one.

“Council should understand that there are no timelines associated with an inquiry, once it is established. By way of example, the Red Hill Valley Parkway initiated by Hamilton City Council in April 2019 has yet to call a single witness,” wrote White.

White reiterates in the memo that the municipality pays for all related costs, even though it has no control over the process or scope once the judicial inquiry is established

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