Innisfil Town Council Declares War on Own Citizens



    Public Debate of Unprecedented Decision to Seek OMB Costs Shut Down

    TORONTO, Sept. 18 /CNW/ - Innisfil Council refused to abandon its
unprecedented campaign to extract OMB costs from its own residents last night.
To boos and cat-calls, the Mayor and 7 of 8 Councillors refused to allow
discussion of a Motion clarifying why the town is supporting a staggering
$3.6 million claim in the Big Bay Point case.
    "I expect a Town Council to refuse to release information about a bizarre
claim for millions of dollars against its own residents on an episode of the
Dukes of Hazzard, but not in Ontario", said Dr. Rick Smith who addressed
Council and asked for debate.
    "Is this Council even aware that in addition to legal and expert fees,
they're seeking reimbursement for everything from a bug jacket, to a bag of
ice, a piece of Chocolate Explosion cake and literally thousands of dollars
for croissant, sliced fruit and bagels and cream cheese?", Smith added.
    Despite the obvious and serious repercussions on the Town's finances and
for its ratepayers on proceeding with the unprecedented costs claim against
the Innisfil District Association ("IDA") and its former lawyers, Council has
never discussed publicly or even in-camera the decision to proceed with the
claim.
    The Town is supporting the whole of the developer's claim even though it
adopted By-law 021-05 that guaranteed the Town would be reimbursed its hearing
expenses regardless of the outcome of the hearing. In other words, the Town is
expending considerable time and resources trying to get the developer's money
back but has no financial interest in this proceeding. This is a highly
unusually and prejudicial action taken against its own constituents.
    Don Avery, Chairman of the Innisfil District Association, had asked
Council to debate a Motion to answer residents' questions such as 'who is
paying the Town's lawyer's fees'? 'When and by whom was the lawyer authorized
to launch this extraordinary action'? 'Why was this matter not presented to
this Council and the public for a discussion'?
    "Council has never circulated a staff report or legal opinion on whether
this enormous cost claim has merit or is in the Town's interest", said Don
Avery.
    Environmental Defence lawyer Clayton Ruby has stated flatly the developer
and Town's claim is nothing more than a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public
Participation and should be defeated to protect the public interest. According
to the August edition of Toronto Life Magazine, the Town's claim is now just
one of a number of actions and counter-claims involving opponents of the Big
Bay Point project totalling $225 million.
    Council also refused to address the fact that according to a spokesperson
from the OMB, cost awards are unusual and usually in the range of $2,000 to
$5,000. In addition, Council refused to consider that costs at the OMB are
awarded in less than 2 per cent of cases, usually for patently unreasonable
behaviour during hearings. Most awards are nominal or symbolic amounts
unrelated to the real expenses incurred.
    "The Government of Ontario owes the residents of Innisfil an explanation
for this secret assault on democracy and the rights of the citizens of Hazzard
County... we mean Innisfil, Ontario", Smith added.





For further information:

For further information: or to arrange interviews, please contact: Mike
Layton, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext.257, (416) 525-5758 (cell)

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