Local coalition files for injunction to stop LRT

The group Coalition Stop Waterloo LRT has applied for a legal injunction in an attempt to derail construction of the Region of Waterloo's $532.1 million light rail transit project because it would "cause irreparable harm to businesses and ratepayers," according to court documents.

Jay Aissa's Coalition Stop Waterloo LRT claims construction would "cause irreparable harm"

The Coalition Stop Waterloo LRT is applying for a legal injunction to halt construction of the Region of Waterloo's $532.1 million light rail transit project because, the group claims in documents filed with an Ontario court, it would "cause irreparable harm to businesses and ratepayers."

The application will be heard in Ontario Superior Court on Tuesday, March 18 at 2:30 p.m. at the Regional Courthouse on Frederick Street in Kitchener.

In an argument laid out in its application to the court, the coalition claims that the Region has not only violated its own municipal planning rules, but also failed to complete an environmental assessment on the project, which is required by federal and provincial law. 

Jay Aissa, the local businessman spearheading the coalition, says the region should have stopped all work on the LRT when Regional Chair Ken Seiling was first served with the notice of intent.

"When Mr. Seiling on March 4th, when he continued with his vote, he should have stopped and looked into it a little bit further," Aissa said. 

However, Seiling is confident the region will be able to move forward.

"We are quite confident that we have done everything legally to advance the project and we are hopeful that the courts will agree with us and we'll carry on," Seiling said.

Coalition claims region is in violation of planning act

Coalition Stop Waterloo LRT argues that the route plotted by the Region for light rail as well as the subsequent land purchases and relocation of utilities to accommodate the transit project violate the 1995 version of its own official plan, which is the document that lays out the framework that governs the municipality's growth. 

The group further argues that the latest version of the Region's plan, which was approved by the province with amendments in 2010, doesn't apply because its currently being appealed at the Ontario Municipal Board.

In order to be in compliance with Ontario law, the coalition argues, the region would require further amendments to the 1995 version of its official plan, which isn't being contested.  

In its court filings, Coalition Stop Waterloo LRT also says the Region of Waterloo failed to live up to its environmental obligations since it has yet to complete an environmental assessment for the light rail transit project, which is required by provincial and federal law.

The Region of Waterloo entered into a three-phase environmental assessment on the light rail transit project in 2006 and while phase one and two were completed, the region did not finish the third phase of the assessment.

Instead, the Region took advantage of a change in provincial rules, which allowed the municipality to speed up the process by undertaking a so-called Transit Project Assessment, which is less onerous than a full-blown environmental assessment. 

In documents filed with a provincial court, the coalition argues that if the Region of Waterloo were allowed to proceed with the construction of the light rail project it would "cause irreparable harm to businesses and ratepayers."