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Toronto Star - Oct. 24, 2009 - By Phinjo Gombu, Urban Affairs Reporter
McCallion inquiry could cost $2M-plus
The details of the inquiry, which Mississauga council called for last month, are laid out in a report by city solicitor Mary Ellen Bench released late Friday afternoon. Council will debate and discuss the terms of reference next Wednesday.
"Council has to decide if they are going to proceed with the judicial inquiry and, if they are, they have to ratify the terms of reference," Bench said. City council also has the option of narrowing or expanding the terms of reference.
The federal government will pay the salary of the judge who conducts the inquiry, Bench said. The city's cost includes a commission lawyer and judge's staff, but council will have to decide whether to help pay legal costs of the parties involved, including the mayor and son Peter McCallion. The report suggests the inquiry could cost $2 million to $2.5 million.
The inquiry is to review the relationship between the city and World Class Developments Ltd., a company that included Peter McCallion and Vaughan-based businessman Tony DeCicco.
Last year, World Class attempted to buy land near city hall for a hotel, convention centre and condominium complex from OMERS, a giant municipal-employees pension fund that also owns the adjacent Square One mall and a minority share in the city's hydro utility, Enersource.
Documents filed in court by DeCicco, in a dispute over losing the deal to buy the property, showed the mayor had been involved in at least two private meetings while the issue of rezoning the land was before council.
McCallion had also failed to declare a conflict of interest in one instance when the matter came up, although the council minutes showed she had done so. (The minutes have since been amended, after a probe by the clerk's office.)
The inquiry is also expected to look into the relationships among Enersource, OMERS, World Class and any other players involved, and could review an earlier failed land purchase attempt between a DeCicco company and golf course owner in Mississauga.
A key issue councillors hope the judge will decide is whether conflict-of-interest declarations at city council meetings – required when a politician has a pecuniary interest in a matter before council – extend to private meetings of the type Hazel McCallion attended, involving her son's company.
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