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Ottawa mayor, councillors demand investigation into leak of sinkhole lawsuit

The city's finance and economic development committee has unanimously called for the integrity commissioner to investigate and find the source of the leak.
Rideau Street sinkhole
Water can be seen in a large sinkhole that formed on Rideau Street next to the Rideau Centre mall in June 2016. Photo/The Canadian Press

Mayor Jim Watson and a group of Ottawa city councillors want to know who leaked a confidential memo last week, about the city's $361-million lawsuit over the 2016 sinkhole on Rideau Street?

Ottawa's finance and economic development committee (FEDco) unanimously approved, without discussion, a motion directing the city's integrity commissioner to investigate the release of the confidential memo, and to report his findings as soon as possible.

"This is a very important issue," said Councillor Eli El-Chantiry, who made the motion. "I'm hoping the integrity commissioner will use anything available in his power to get to the bottom of this, including using the police service if he has to."

The confidential memo in question, informing councillors of the lawsuit, was sent late Monday, May 10. A statement of claim was filed in court the following day, making the lawsuit documents part of the public record. The Ottawa Citizen reported on the lawsuit the evening after it was filed, followed the next day by other local news outlets.

El-Chantiry says this was a major leak that could cost the city some of its chances of winning the lawsuit against Rideau Transit Group (RTG), and that it could therefore cost taxpayers in the end.

The city is suing RTG for reimbursement of its expenses and lost revenue due to the sinkhole that opened up on Rideau Street, just east of Sussex Drive, in June 2016.

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