Friday, September 17, 2010

Two quick NOTL hits

These popped up Wednesday as the Niagara Advance posted its articles for the week.
First, its coverage of the "gentle" chastising the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake council got for the closed-door strategy meetings of the town/community save-the-school committee. The lead councillors are dismissing it as nothing much, but the closed-meeting investigator is actually telling council it should have either declared the committee a council committee (in which case it can close the doors to consider advice from its solicitor) or declared it as being not a council committee -- in which case its members could have still freely closed the doors but wouldn't have necessarily had the protection of the Ontario Municipal Act. From the article:
"The failure to apply the intention of Council to the NDSS Strategy Committee . . . resulted in the committee failing to comply with the closed meeting requirements," stated the report. "It is recommended that the town's procedure bylaw be reviewed."
Councillor Gary Zalepa, who chairs the NDSS Strategy Committee, noted Monday night that the committee was "not acting in bad faith" when they had their meeting and that it appeared there was, "more remiss in the town's bylaw" than anything else.
Zalepa said the committee retains the right to discuss legal strategies in-camera before presenting that strategy to the public.
Well, yes and no, as I've stated above. It did draw my curiosity however, given I'd emplored and mused several times earlier this year that if I lived in NOTL I would have been 'that guy' filing a request for the closed-meeting investigator to look into these committee meetings.
The second piece was the Advance touching base with the Friends of NDSS, post-ruling on the group's request for an injunction. The court turned down the request, and offered some opinion on the pending judicial review that doesn't bode well for the Friends' case.
(Teresa) Rive says they hold out hope for a successful resolution of a judicial review by focusing on the judge's assertion that the high school closure has a serious impact on virtually every aspect of the community.
"That reminds us what this judicial review is intended to address," says Rive, adding that his decision refers only to the injunction against the school closure.
"This was just part of the process," says Rive.
"It's disappointing but we respect his decision and will carry on with the review. Hopefully that will go our way."
All of which is swell, but perhaps again demonstrates how a judicial review perhaps differs from what Rive believes it will accomplish. The panel is not going to take the impact of the decision into account-- based on every understanding of this process that I have (and I'm not a lawyer), the judicial review will do just that. Review the process that was followed to determine whether there were any omissions or errors in the process. We already have one justice of the bench saying that based on his review of the evidence, there was no such abuse of process. The impact the decision has on the town appears to fall pretty clearly outside the court's domain, so I'm unsure why, if Friends is getting good advice from its lawyer(s), why a supporter would be saying she hopes the review panel will take the impact on the town into account.