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Equality East Citizens Coalition
1612 Baie Verte Crescent
Orléans ON  KIC 3K2
(613) 837-7950

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Media Centre - News Release

East end ‘blindsided’ by City, Equality East to seek legal advice
(Posted December 20, 2002)

Orléans, Ontario – An unprecedented coalition of 58 east end community organizations saw its efforts to secure city funding for an arts and culture facility blindsided during budget deliberations by the City of Ottawa’s Health, Recreation and Social Services Committee, says Equality East Citizens’ Coalition Chair, J.-F. Claude.

Revelations on OrleansOnline.ca this morning that Ottawa city staff refuse to obtain a legal interpretation of ineligible services listed in Ontario’s Development Charges Act, 1997 – despite a senior provincial government official’s admission that no blanket prohibition on arts facilities is intended – further casts doubt on the will at City Hall to move the arts facility project forward.

“If the city persists in refusing to obtain a legal interpretation of the relevant provision of the Act, Equality East will be left with no option but to explore legal avenues of its own. We owe it to our 58 coalition partners and their 11,000 members to obtain a legal opinion in this matter,” says Equality East Chair, J-F. Claude. “The fact that a non-profit citizens’ group is being forced to seek legal counsel in order to move a community project forward speaks volumes as to how the east end community’s needs are being ignored in the amalgamated City of Ottawa.”

Minutes before a motion was introduced at the December 11 HRSS committee budget meeting requesting that capital funds earmarked for an east end pool be reallocated to the arts centre, Equality East was notified that City staff would inform committee members that provincial legislation prevents the use of development charges to fund arts and cultural facilities. Over 90% of the pool funding was to be raised through development charges.

“We were led to believe by councillors and city staff that, with the municipal reserves all but depleted, the only possible funding option for the arts facility - within the existing capital budget envelope - was through a reallocation of the pool money,” says J.-F. Claude. “For a city official, it is ‘Budget Basics 101’ to know whether a facility can or can’t be funded through development charges.”

Claude implies that for arts facility proponents to only be informed of the Act’s restrictions during the city committee’s budget meeting – and after the group’s presentations were made – suggests that city officials either “didn’t do their homework and seriously dropped the ball, or there was intentional interference. Either way, there’s no question we were blindsided.”

“The January 8 City Council budget meeting will determine whether or not the voice of 11,000 east end residents, united in a common cause, can be heard at City Hall, and restore our community’s faith in the City,” Claude concludes.
 

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Source:

J.-F. Claude, Chair, Equality East Citizens’ Coalition, (613) 837-7950

© J.-F. Claude, 2002