REPLAY – LiveBlog: Ontario Municipal Board Second Pre-hearing Hamilton Ward Boundaries

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Joey Coleman/The Public Record

The Dundas Town Hall OMB Hearing Room, photo from day prior to the hearing

The Ontario Municipal Board is holding its final pre-hearing as they prepare to decide on City Council’s gerrymandering of boundaries in the face of expert reports stating the boundaries fail to meet the standards of democratic balance in representation.

Today’s pre-hearing will finalize the “issues list” and witnesses that each party will be able to call to testify during the hearing.

I’ll be liveblogging from the hearing starting at 10am.

(You can read the liveblog from the August pre-hearing here)

Some key terms and people in this hearing.

OMB panel

The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) members deciding this case are Dr. Bruce Krushelnicki and Paula Boutis. Krushelnicki is the Executive Chairman of the Environmental and Land Tribunals of Ontario, and is therefore the highest ranking member of the OMB.

City of Hamilton Legal Counsel

City Council retained outside legal counsel for the hearing as the Council voted to not accept the recommendations of professional experts Watson & Associates, instead creating their own boundaries as a Council.

The outside Counsel for the Council are Steven Ferri, partner at Loopstra Nixon LLP, and Cindy Yi, as associate at the firm.

Applicants

Two private citizens have appealed the Council’s new self-created ward boundaries.

Mark Richardson is being represented in the hearing by Hamilton lawyer Craig Burley, who is working on the case pro-bono.

Robert Dobrucki is self-representing, a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and a lawyer by trade, he is appealing as a private citizen. (Dobrucki was a guest on The Public Record Radio Show in October 2016 on the topic of ward boundaries)

Joey Coleman September 18, 201709:53

Good morning everyone. It’s 9:50am, the hearing is scheduled to begin at 10am.
Present are Dr. Bruce Krushelnicki, Counsel for the City Steven Ferri, appellant Mark Richardson and his Counsel Craig Burley.

In the audience is Ward 15 Councillor Judi Partridge, and with her Roman Sarachman, Chair of the Committee to Free Flamborough (CFF) group.

Joey Coleman September 18, 201709:58

Judi Partridge has been pouring her time into getting people from Flamborough to attend this morning, to demand participant status, and support Council’s gerrymandered boundaries.

Officially, the August pre-hearing was the last opportunity to register as a participant and there was a procedural order issued by the OMB on August 31st setting the participant list.
Thus far, at 9:57am, only four people who were not present in August are in the seats.

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:01

Partridge continues to work the room, giving instructions on how to ask to be a participant. City Counsel will ask OMB to open the procedural order to allow additions to the list.
Partridge is telling the person seated near me that she’ll help them prepare their statement for October 23rd (which is when the Board will hear from participants).

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:02

UPDATE: Turns out one of the four people was in the room place, so now only three new seating sitting in the public gallery.

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:05

The OMB Executive Chair is now present in the room, called to order.
Ms. Boutis is the OMB member also on the present. She is chairing today.
She is asking if there are others seeking participant status today.
Now taking a call of Counsel present.

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:06

Robert Dobrucki is not present today.

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:08

Two members of the public seeking participant status: Elizabeth Saucier and Roman Sarachman.
Judi Partridge says she has a request from Gwen Todd, who cannot be present today, to be a participant.
Partridge is acting as agent for Georgina Beattie, who is now registered.

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:13

The City and Counsel for Richardson now finalizing the issues list.

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:19

The parties have reached an agreement on the issues list.
I don’t have a copy, nonetheless, this is a big step for the pre-hearing.
The parties have agreed on the issue of a “self-dealing argument”, Richardson will not be advancing that.

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:21

Krushelnicki notes to City Counsel Ferri that a participant may bring up the issue of bad faith / self dealing of the Council.
Krushelnicki “the participants are not barred from bringing forth this as an issue”
Ferri “at that time, the City may object”

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:22

On the issue of City held GIS data, Ferri says the City does have the data but not in a transferable format. To make the GIS data transferable, the City will need to charge Dobrucki a fee.
(How the City has GIS data thats not in GIS formats is beyond me)

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:28

The issue list:
– the City Council ward criteria set, are they appropriate?
– does City Council’s passed new boundaries meet the criteria that City Council set?
– IF the OMB decides the City’s criteria is not appropriate, what is the appropriate criteria for ward boundaries?
– What are the appropriate boundaries for a appropriate criteria?
– What the public consultation appropriate, if it were not, what the remedy?
– Was the City required to provide GIS data to the public during the public consultation to enable the public to create alternative ward boundaries?

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:30

Counsel Burley says he was going to call Dr. Zachary Spicer, poli sci prof at Brock, to testify, but he was an unavoidable conflict. Burley says he is seeking an alternative expert, says he needs one more day to confirm that expert.

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:36

The City’s witness list:
1. Tony Fallis, City of Hamilton Manager of Elections
2. Gary Scandlan, Watson & Associates
Economists Ltd. Land Economist
3. Don Given, Malone Given Parsons Ltd. Land Use Planning
4. Dr. Bill Freeman History and Sociology
5. Dr. Robert Williams Municipal Ward Boundaries

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:39

Now arguing over if the appellant can qualify Dr. Zachary Spicer – who wrote his doctoral thesis and his research on municipal boundaries and political representation – can be qualified as an expert witness.
Krushelnicki states to Ferri that he can challenge the credentials at the time of the hearing when the witness is on the stand.

Joey Coleman September 18, 201710:43

And that’s a wrap – a new procedural order will be issued.
Hearing starts on October 19 at Stoney Creek Municipal Centre. (Hwy 8 and Jones Rd, last stop on the Route 55 HSR bus)
Thanks for following along today.
All raise, the Chair of todays hearing and the OMB Executive Chair leave.

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