LRT Expropriation Figures Still Secret

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The Bulldog has a new obsession … discovering what the City of Ottawa paid landowners for their expropriated properties in relation to the light-rail project.

It’s hard to imagine why the city doesn’t simply release the figures, but it doesn’t.

The idea that if one guy got that then another guy will want that too doesn’t wash. Most real estate people can tell you within about $30,000 what a particular property is worth.

City clerk and solicitor Rick O’Connor talked with The Bulldog last week trying to make sense of why all this information is, as usual, hush, hush.

O’Connor didn’t get into the municipality’s preoccupation with secrecy, but he did give The Bulldog some of the legal basis to the city’s position.

You see on March 28, 2012 city council passed a motion saying that expropriation tallies would be released when all the expropriations are completed. Now does that mean for the current first phase, second phase or some other phase that will be completed in someone else’s lifetime.

Furthermore, O’Connor reports that expropriations are still not completed. Seems odd that one would go forward on a project without the expropriations done but then it too seems peculiar that the city would go forward on the whole project without having the western exit of the light-rail plan secured.

That said, you do have to admire the city’s consistency when it comes to odd decisions.

Now not to be too cynical about the municipality’s position here, but could it be that one expropriation hasn’t been “completed” (say one T not crossed) so as to not release those figures?

Now you say: “Bulldog, you’re far too doubting for your own canine good.” But the wonder dog disagrees. You’ll remember that even Team Bobblehead (city council) sent back a report condemning Carling light rail because it was so slanted against that proposal.

The report boosted the price of Carling light rail astronomically and didn’t take into account that a Carling route would be used by people rather than geese which would be the sole users of the Macdonald Parkway line.

So these same people responsible for light rail would find a reason not to release these expropriation figures? Oh maybe.

O’Connor also said no provisions exist in the Expropriation Act that require municipalities to release expropriation figures.

Of course, it would never occur to our paranoid light-rail planners that they could release the figures because it is the right thing to do. That the public should know how its tax money is being spent. Of course not. That the money is not the light-rail project’s bucks but those of the good taxpayers of this city.

But in reality, it’s not the public’s light-rail plan, just a bunch of bureaucrats’ plan.

And that’s only right because who would want to take credit for this mess?

For all the legal explanations, the fact remains that public information should be in the public realm and, in this case, it is not.

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