-  by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

It costs $5 to file a freedom of information request with your local municipality.   In response, you will get an estimate of the staff time required to compile the informaton you request, and you can decide whether it's worth it to you. 

A taxpayer in the Town of South Bruce Peninsula went through this process simply to learn how their local government had allocated resources to two legal disputes in the  municipality.   They shared what they learned with us, with no further comment.

"For many months I have tried to obtain from the Town of South Bruce Peninsula the total amount of legal costs expended by the Town on each of the Sauble Beach land claim and the “piping plover” litigation.   

I was advised that to ensure a comprehensive answer, etc, the Town would have to expend some 30 hours of person time addressing that freedom of information request.  I declined to pay for that.  I asked instead for a summary of all invoices issued by the Toronto firm of Lax O’Sullilvan, which was the Town’s primary counsel for both disputes. 

I have that summary now, though no itemized invoices.  The paperwork discloses the following:

    1. From March 31, 2015 to June 30, 2023 the Town spent $3,029,584 on the Sauble Beach land claim litigation.
    2. From July 31, 2015 to March 31, 2022 the Town spent $1,476,767 on the piping plover litigation.

Total expended on legal costs to June of this year: Four million five hundred and six thousand and thirty five dollars.

Note that this is only a summary of monies paid to that law firm for those issues for those dates.  For all I know, other fees were paid to other lawyers, consultants and experts apart from those invoices.  Note as well that the land claim number is of the end of June of this year; more invoices will be paid as the appeal process takes its course. "


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