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Judge dismisses Regina councillors' court application against city manager


A judge has dismissed an application by two city councillors asking court to compel Regina's city manager to include funding to solve homelessness in the proposed 2023-24 budget.

Justice J.P. Morall handed down a ruling Wednesday afternoon, after hearing arguments Tuesday in a mandamus application filed against city manager Niki Anderson by councillors Andrew Stevens and Dan Leblanc.

A mandamus application asks the court to order the government to perform a duty owed to the public.

The application arose after $24.9 million in funding to end homelessness was left out of the proposed city budget for 2023-24. Instead, the homelessness funding will be discussed by council as a separate item.

LeBlanc and Stevens argued that Anderson did not include the funding in the proposed budget that was voted on by council, and since she holds a public office position, that qualifies under mandamus.

Morall ruled in favour of Anderson, factoring in the other possible remedies to the conflict the councillors could have pursued.

“I find that the court should be quite leery of being involved in the political machinations and debates between members of municipal, provincial or federal decision-making bodies,” Justice Morall’s decision reads.

“While establishing the goalposts can be part of the court’s gatekeeping function, the remedy of mandamus is a blunt tool and must be used equitably and appropriately.”

The justice stated that Andrews and Leblanc will have full use of the democratic process during council deliberations to attempt to get the homelessness line item added to the final budget.

“It is my view that this would be an adequate and effective remedy in these circumstances. The proposed budget is an important tool to begin discussions but it has no legal force or authority,” the decision read.

“It is only Council who can determine what will constitute the final budget.”

Milad Alishahi, Anderson’s lawyer, said he was pleased with the decision – emphasizing the city manager complied with any legal duty that she may have owed council.

“The decision by Ms. Anderson not to include the projected costs to 'solve homelessness' in the proposed budget was a discretionary decision and exercised in good faith, based on relevant considerations, including the financial health of the City,” he said in a statement regarding Justice Morrall’s decision.

As for LeBlanc, the city councillor told reporters Wednesday evening that he was not surprised or thrilled by the verdict.

“[I'm] a bit disappointed frankly, I mean legally the decision is deemed to be right until overturned, I don’t expect we appeal it. I think there’s some tough political implications, notably one my first review of the decision it turns out the city manager does not have a public legal duty to follow council's directions,” he said.

“I think there are some negative involvement and implications for the way we do our democratic government but again legally the decision is taken and I would say is legally correct its just unfortunate that that’s what the law is in regards to city managers.”

He added that money in the budget is more likely to stay in the budget, and that Regina’s homelessness situation is getting worse and worse.

"I would say, we have vulnerable people in Regina, at least 488 of them, sleeping in tents, some of those tents burned down last night, we heard today as part of the police budget debate, Chief Bray said more fentanyl overdoses this year than in previous years, things are getting worse not better— inaction on this issue is making it worse, not better."

LeBlanc said he will not pursue further legal action, but will put forth another motion Thursday to add funding to solve homelessness in the budget.

“It’s too bad we have to take a second kick at it since I thought we did that in June, but that’s the nature of it and so communities coming together again on behalf of neighbours, I’m going to ask my colleagues to vote in favour.” Top Stories

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