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City told to fork over Lansdowne documents

Friends of Lansdowne are celebrating yesterday's decision by Master Calum MacLeod of the Ontario Superior Court as a victory. Read it, and it's pretty clear why.

Opponents have always doubted the City's assertion that the redevelopment plan won't cost taxpayers a dime. They've been demanding financial data and other information that helped guide that PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis the City holds up as proof positive of its "revenue neutral" claim. Master MacLeod says the data is of "fundamental relevance," and he's ordered the City to hand it over. OSEG will also be ordered to hand over certain documents if it wants to participate as an intervenor. 

Master MacLeod also turned down the City's motion to bar affidavits by tax expert Harry Kitchen and investigative accountant Al Rosen. Armed with new financial data from the city, those two will now be sharpening their criticism of the Lansdowne deal.

The City will not be compelled to hand over e-mails and other correspondence between the former mayor, the city manager and OSEG related to the deal. Master MacLeod says those negotiations aren't important: Rather, the "final iteration" of the deal, and whether it "confers an illegal benefit" on OSEG, is what's relevant here. In other words, "whether the plan as presented actually does what city council was told it does."

I ran this by Alta Vista councillor Peter Hume earlier today (he hadn't had time to look at the decision). His take on the disclosure question? The City should have just cooperated in the first place. "That's the best way to avoid all of this protracted discussion, and quite frankly the fear (that) there's some grand consiracy to keep information. You know what? Just give it all to (them)." 

Lawyers will now have to get together to decide how the information will be produced and shared. The lawyer for Friends of Lansdowne, Steven Shrybman, says he doesn't think that will slow the process, and the legal challenge will go ahead in April as planned. 

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