Get Concerned Stratford continues to ask for documents
and minutes from the city. Some of the requests go back three years.
Here’s what’s outstanding.
- A generic request for any files related to Xinyi was met with a bill for $8800 before they would begin looking. We have a decision on the size of the bill, and it is essentially ½ that. We are considering our options.
- A part of that request was for the contracts signed by the city with Xinyi. We paid to see those. The city refused, and we appealed. We are still awaiting a final adjudication. Generally, all contracts entered into by any level of government cannot be hidden from the public.
- A similar request was to see the contract between the province and Xinyi entered into in November of 2017. The province refused, we appealed, and we got a decision in our favour. The contract is on the Get Concerned website.
- We asked to see copies of contracts between the city and Chris Pigeon, the planner Xinyi used to forward its interests, both here and in Guelph Eramosa Township. We had learned through another process that Mr. Pigeon had a contract with Stratford and possibly with Stratford’s lawyer for a justification of the annexation of land for Xinyi. The city claimed no contract existed, and that it must have been a verbal contract with the previous CAO, Rob Horne. The city did have documents outlining the payments to Mr. Pigeon for the work, but have so far refused to show them.
- We filed 146 closed meeting investigation requests to look at whether the meetings in camera during the Xinyi time were legally in Camera. The investigator found many that were not legally in camera. We then asked to see minutes of the items which should have been public. The city refused to give them to us without a Freedom of Information Request. We filed that in March. The city released some minutes, but withheld many, citing often as the reason that the meeting was in camera. We appealed that decision.
In the minutes that we did get, we noticed that on about half of the occasions council voted illegally. Votes in Camera can only be on matters of procedure, or to give direction to staff. But half of what we saw in the minutes were illegal votes on matters of substance. We only saw minutes of a tiny fraction of the total set of closed meetings. So we have filed yet another closed meeting investigation asking the investigator to find and report on illegal voting by council over that period. That investigation is ongoing.