City being secretive about LRT land buys, Chiarelli argues

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College Ward Coun. Rick Chiarelli says the City is being secretive about the land acquisition process for Stage 1 of LRT.

The Confederation Line–which is tentatively set to be handed over to the City on Friday–has been declared substantially complete, but Chiarelli says there are still unanswered questions about the land that had to be expropriated in order to build the 12.5 km east-to-west tracks.

“We haven’t been given any information about the vendors who sold the land to the City, how much the price was, or any related side deals. We haven’t been given any of that information,” he said.

Chiarelli filed a municipal freedom of information request in May of 2018, but says he ran into several delays. After meeting with the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Chiarelli agreed to suspend his FOI request until after a report was tabled by City Staff. The report is due by October.

But if Chiarelli finds the report is inadequate, he will continue seeking answers through his FOI request.

Chiarelli says the City was initially holding back the information until all the land was bought, but since then it hasn’t come forward.

“Originally, the City said they would withhold the information until all the purchases were made for fear of affecting the price of later purchases,” he said, “but around a year ago we had all the land and we were building on it and they still wouldn’t release the information.”

He says there is secrecy around the Stage 2 process as well, but he’s still waiting for costs associated with Stage 1.

“I don’t see why Council, as representatives of the electorate, don’t have the right to see this as part of the oversight function that we have,” he said.

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