City, province in court again this morning in council cut fight

City, province in court again this morning in council cut fight

The city and province meet again in court this morning over the ongoing council cut saga that is dominating debate at city hall and Queen’s Park.

Starting at 10 a.m., lawyers for the governments, as well as those representing candidates, volunteers and community groups, will argue whether the Court of Appeal should grant a “stay” of a lower-court ruling and revive a 25-ward election.

On Sept. 10, Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba ruled that the province’s legislation cutting council to 25 from 47 wards was unconstitutional. It effectively killed those rules under Bill 5, the so-called Better Local Government Act.

The province has since appealed that ruling and is now asking for the stay. If granted, the stay would essentially make it so Belobaba’s ruling never happened pending a hearing on the appeal itself. That hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Because the election, scheduled for Oct. 22, is fast approaching, lawyers for the city and others argue the decision on the stay will essentially decide which ward scenario will be used — at least for now. Premier Doug Ford’s provincial government is rushing through new legislation to again cut the size of council to 25 wards, this time with a rarely-used clause to prevent charter rights challenges.

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