LRT lawsuit rejected by judge

Graphic by Lena Yang
Graphic by Lena Yang

An injunction application to halt incoming Light Rail Transit (LRT) construction in the Region of Waterloo was rejected in court on Tuesday.

The Region received a notice of application for judicial review on Mar.16 that sought an injunction to stop the first stage of the LRT.

The notice claimed that the LRT project clashes with the Regional Official Policies Plan and goes directly against Section 24 of the Ontario Planning Act.
Section 24 prohibits public work that goes directly against an official municipal plan from taking place.

Jay Aissa, owner of a local fencing company, and creator of the Stop Light Rail Transit group, filed the injunction. He was hopeful that phase one of the LRT constructions would be pushed back until the Regional election.

“The injunction would give us a chance to slow down the LRT project until election time in the fall,” said Aissa. “We’re trying to show the people there’s only 223 days left until election, why rush the issue? The people of the Region should be able to vote on it.”

The Region of Waterloo disagreed with the allegation that the LRT project goes against the Regional Official Policies Plan.

“The plan was amended in 2007 to provide for the project,” said Ken Seiling, chair of Regional Council. “We don’t believe there is an issue with our project and the plan.”
However, Aissa did not believe this to be true.

“The amendment was appealed. They did amend it, but it was appealed, and it’s still under the Ontario Municipality Board.”

Had the court accepted Aissa’s injunction application it would have been temporary and a hearing would have been required to further discuss the issue, according to Seiling.

Aissa’s lawyers  also argued that the Region also did not conduct a “proper environmental assessment for the LRT.”
They said that an amendment intended to bring it into compliance with planning rules was considerably vague.

However, things did not go the way Aissa had planned.

Judge Anne Tucker, who presided over the injunction, made a special trip from St. Catherine’s to Kitchener for the hearing.

Ultimately, Judge Tucker found that the case against the Region was lacking, and that the Region did not fail to comply with the Ontario Planning Act.

The Region is now clear to proceed with the awarding of a $1.9 billion construction contract to Grand Linq.

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