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Council to discuss a search for new law firms

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It's unclear why the municipality has not initiated a search for new law firms after last year's disappointing legal performance in the Rainbow expropriation lawsuit. Nor is it clear why it is still using the same law firm for legal advice after it dropped the ball in the million-dollar legal appeal. "I don't know the reason why it (the Request For Proposals) wasn't (issued)," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, speaking to a situation that took place months before she took office. "That's something that this council's going to be looking at in just establishing guidelines for the use of consultants in the future and not just generic consultants but people providing legal services."Council voted to issue an RFP last spring after the legal team at the Vancouver firm Young Anderson failed to file a factum, or facts of the appeal, in the Rainbow case even after being warned several times by opposing counsel that it was late.The municipality was appealing a judge's decision to award the Saxton family $1.3 million for land that was expropriated in the late '80s to become Rainbow Park. It lost that appeal, however, the judge saying this would have happened even if the municipal lawyers had done due diligence.Last week the municipality confirmed Young Anderson still represents it in the 20-year-old Rainbow legal challenge, and in other matters. In an email the RMOW said: "Young Anderson continues to represent the RMOW in this case as the hearing is a continuation of the trial."It is, however, using a different lawyer at the firm. When asked what else the municipality is using Young Anderson for, the mayor said:"I think they're providing general advice on all manners of issues whether it's bylaw drafting or if there's some real estate questions. There are some really good lawyers in that law firm and they've been providing legal services to the municipality for many, many years. But that said, my understanding is the municipality retains other law firms as well."Now settlement talks are underway between the Saxtons and the municipality.When asked if the municipality will pursue an RFP for new law firms, the mayor said:"That is a topic we (council) will be discussing, yes."— Alison Taylor

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