By Graeme McNaughton
The Oshawa Express
Councillors will soon be able to find out just how much the region has spent in an ongoing legal case between the Region of Durham and the City of Oshawa.
Following a request by Councillor John Neal at the latest meeting of the committee of the whole, the region will be compiling a report on expenses Durham has incurred since the lawsuit was first filed in 2011.
Speaking at committee of the whole, Matt Gaskell, the region’s commissioner of corporate services, says the dispute between the region and the city will be heading to arbitration, but did not know when that would be taking place.
Speaking with The Oshawa Express, Neal says the ongoing legal case will leave Oshawa residents as the losers, as they will have to pay the bills for both sides.
“It’s a situation that I don’t think they needed to go there, two levels of government with the same taxpayer. It’s one of the worst situations I’ve seen since the Cullen Miniature fiasco in regards to wasting taxpayers’ money,” he says, referring to the city’s maligned 2007 purchase of the Whitby attraction for nearly $250,000, which was then sold in 2012 for less than half that.
Neal adds that the City of Oshawa gave councillors an update on the case from its end during a closed session in December. Tania Laverty, a spokesperson for the Region of Durham, says it is her understanding that the forthcoming regional report will be public.
The origins of the case stretch back more than a decade to 2004, when the city’s transit services, along with those from other Durham municipalities, were uploaded to the region, creating what is now Durham Region Transit.
In March 2011, Durham launched an $8.9-million lawsuit against Oshawa, “seeking relief under the terms of a 2004 bylaw that transferred responsibility for Oshawa’s public transit system to Durham,” according to a 2013 Court of Appeals decision, which saw the city’s case for having the case dismissed thrown out.
The $8.9 million is from unfounded liabilities, such as pensions and benefits, left over from when the city transferred transit responsibilities to the region.
In a 2009 council resolution, the City of Oshawa stated that it was not responsible for these payments.
No timeline was given at the meeting as to when the report will be made available.