Mayor, committee demand investigation into sinkhole leak

·1 min read
The city's finance and economic development committee, led by Mayor Jim Watson, wants the integrity commissioner to investigate the release of a confidential memo about a $361-million lawsuit over the Rideau Streel sinkhole, seen here being repaired in June 2016. (Susana Mas/CBC  - image credit)
The city's finance and economic development committee, led by Mayor Jim Watson, wants the integrity commissioner to investigate the release of a confidential memo about a $361-million lawsuit over the Rideau Streel sinkhole, seen here being repaired in June 2016. (Susana Mas/CBC - image credit)

A group of councillors led by Mayor Jim Watson wants council to investigate who leaked a confidential memo last week about the city's $361-million lawsuit over the Rideau Street sinkhole.

On Tuesday, the finance and economic development committee, chaired by Watson, unanimously approved without discussion a motion from Coun. Eli El-Chantiry asking that council "direct the Integrity Commissioner to undertake an investigation into the release of the above-noted confidential memo and provide a report on his findings as soon as possible."

"This is a very important issue and I'm hoping the integrity commissioner will use anything available in his power to get to the bottom of this, including using the police services if he has to," said El-Chantiry.

The confidential memo, signed by rail director Michael Morgan and external lawyer Sharon Vogel, was sent to council late Monday, May 10, informing them about the lawsuit. The statement of claim was filed in court the following day, meaning the lawsuit documents were then public.

The Ottawa Citizen first reported on the memo on the evening of May 11, followed by CBC Ottawa on the morning of the 12th. Later that day, the city released the statement of claim, but it's unclear if it would have done so if the lawsuit had not been reported in the media.

Councillors met behind closed doors for more than two hours on Tuesday morning to receive updates on the legal issues between the city, Confederation Line builders Rideau Transit Group and the insurers of the project. Updates on the second phase of the $4.7-billion light rail project were also held in camera.

Full council will have to give the investigation the green light at its meeting on May 26.

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