City hires legal talent with a very impressive pedigree; probably costing us a fortune but the price will be worth every penny.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  July 3rd, 2013.  They went into closed session and stayed there for well over an hour while media cooled their heals in the foyer.

This was the first time city council members got a chance to talk one on one with the legal hired guns the city has hired to steer them through a very sticky set of situations related to the Air Park problem.

Ian Blue, a lawyer with an expensive pedigree that will serve the city well in a critical fight.

Ian Blue of the firm Gardiner Roberts is said to have significant experience in constitutional law matters, including experience in airport fill disputes in Ontario and was involved in the New Tecumseth and Scugog disputes.  These two were situations where land fill on airport lands were part of the difference of opinions that brought the lawyers into the room.

Blue is a Queen’s Counsel, an appointment he was given in 1985 when the honorific mattered, and a senior counsel and advisor on complex energy, electricity and environmental law matters that have administrative-law, business-law and constitutional-law issues.

He has acted for both private sector and public sector clients. He has appeared before all levels of courts in Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia and the Yukon and before both levels of the Federal Court. He also has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada. In addition, he has appeared before the National Energy Board, the Ontario Energy Board, the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board, before arbitration panels and other regulatory bodies.

Blue has been a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada and as a past Chair of the Administrative Law and Environmental Law Sub-Sections of the Ontario Bar Association.  These are significant positions within the legal profession.  This lawyer would have run circles around Glenn Grenier, the lawyer Vince Rossi has hired to spin tales of what the city can and cannot do in terms of regulating what happens to land in the Escarpment.

Blue is also a prolific legal writer and speaker on practice and legal topics and is a contributor to various lawyers’ publications.  He has also assisted in drafting federal legislation and Ontario legislation and was the draftsman of the Gas Distribution Act, 1999, as well as regulations made under that act, for the Province of New Brunswick.

Ian Blue studied at Dalhousie University – one of the very best law schools in the country.

This guy writes the law that the rest of us have to follow.

He is costing the city a very pretty penny but they would appear to have gotten the right guy to steer council through very complex matters.

Now – why does all this matter?  After all – there are really not that many people impacted by what Vince Rossi is doing with his Air Park.  If that is your thought – re-think.

What Vince Rossi is attempting to do is completely circumvent the city’s authority to determine how the community grows and what kind of community Burlington wants to be.

If there is an Air Park along the lines of what Vince Rossi wants – that decision gets made by the community.

If Burlington is going to have the kind of air port Vince Rossi wants to develop – Vince Rossi is going to have to do that development in concert with the city and follow the by-laws the city has in place. economic development is a city and Regional domain – not that of an individual entrepreneur. Mr Rossi has some expensive lessons to learn.

This city did not want a highway rammed through the Escarpment and it fought to ensure the provincial government listened to what we had to say.

Burlington had grown to the point where they no longer wanted to be an extraction site for the aggregate industry and fought to ensure that Nelson Aggregates was not given another permit to pen up a second quarry.  That fight cost the city millions but there will not be another quarry.

Now the city has to fight again to prevent an entrepreneur from deciding, by himself, how this city is to develop.

If there is to be an airport of any significant side – that decision will be made by city council and the Regional Council who will inform and educate its citizens will decide what kind of development takes place.

Vince Rossi, owner of the Burlington Executive Air Park at a meeting with members of the Rural Burlington Green Coalition

The public is not yet fully aware of just what the ramifications are should an airport that is anywhere near what Vince Rossi wants to build.  Mr. Rossi has to learn that the “community” makes these decisions – not a single entrepreneur who has managed to convince a bank to loan him $4.5 million.  The TD Bank, the people who put the $4.5 million mortgage on the property, has some explaining to do and in the fullness of time they will pay a price for their decision.

For the immediate future, the city can take some comfort in know they have someone with the depth and the experience to take on this task.  The man is also incredibly well-connected.  He served as Legislative Counsel to a former President of the Privy Council, the Honourable Alan J. MacEachen, P.C. who was Government House Leader.  THAT is impressive.  It would seem evident that Ian Blue sees merit in the battle Burlington has on its hands and has decided to bring his talent to bear on that problem.  Lawyers of this calibre get their pick of what they choose to do; that Blue decided to take this one on over many others that would have come his way speaks volumes.

Finally Ian Blue studied at Dalhousie University where Constitutional law is taught better than anywhere else in the country.  Blue also served in the Canadian Army.  The information in his profile suggests that he is a Maritimer as well – and that never hurts.

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2 comments to City hires legal talent with a very impressive pedigree; probably costing us a fortune but the price will be worth every penny.

  • Penny Hersh

    It would be nice to see the City fight harder to prevent over intensification in the core and at the same time really protect the waterfront.

  • Monte

    Congratulations to the City of Burlington for a very sound decision.