Judge stops sale of St. Pat's-Alexandra to developer

Lawyer Ron Pink, representing north end community groups, to get a court hearing February 16

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Judge Patrick Duncan issued the above order late yesterday afternoon, ordering a temporary stay of the sale of St. Pat's-Alexandra School to Jono Developments. The matter will be taken up February 16, when the judge has scheduled a five-and-a-half-hour hearing.

The order came after Halifax lawyer Ron Pink filed a Motion for Judicial Review of the sale from the city to Jono Developments. Pink is representing the North End Community Health Clinic, the Mic Mac Native Friendship Centre and the Richard Preston Centre for Excellence Society.

In his submission, Pink argues that:

1. Halifax Regional Municipality failed to follow its Policy and Procedures for the Disposal of Surplus Schools in the following manner:
a. by not deeming the St. Patrick's Alexandra School surplus;
b. by not making a request for proposals from community groups;
c. by not taking the proper steps to obtain the approval of Halifax Regional Council to put the property on the market;
d. by approving the sale to Jono Developments Ltd.; and
e any other elements as may appear.
2. Halifax Regional Municipality failed to provide procedural fairness to the applicants by ignoring its Policy and Procedures for the Disposal of Surplus Schools approved and publishes September 5, 2000;
3. Halifax Regional Municipality breached the legitimate expectations of the applicants by ignoring its Policy and Procedures for the Disposal of Surplus Schools approved and published September 5, 2000.
4. Halifax Regional Municipality acted in a manner that was unfair, arbitrary, and was in bad faith;
5. Halifax Regional Municipality made wrongful assumptions about the applicants and acted upon stereotypes about the applicants and their communities;
6. Halifax Regional Municipality was biased in its decision-making;
7. Such other grounds as may appear in the record.
Pink's allegations have not been proven in court, but they were evidently enough to convince the judge to set a hearing.

Besides the Motion, Pink included three court cases he argues backs his position. Each of the cases deals with emergency injunctions staying sales of property, and in each the appeals courts ruled that it is proper for the court to do as much, so long as there is some question as to the validity of the sale.

It should be interesting following the arguments and counterarguments as this works up to the February 16 hearing.

In a related matter, this morning when I arrived at work there was a message on my voicemail, from someone (he didn't identify himself) telling me to "check your facts." The caller went on to say that councillor Reg Rankin had a conflict-of-interest in voting on the sale of the school (he voted against it), because Rankin's sister "works at the north end clinic."

I called Rankin to discuss the accusation. Rankin said that his sister is a social worker with Capital Health, and that Capital Health rents a space at the North End Community Health Clinic. His sister works there once a week.

I don't see a conflict. For one, there are Rankins everywhere you turn in this town---Reg Rankin is one of 13 siblings, and there's a legion of Rankins, some variety of cousin to Reg, I think, over at Obladee Wine Bar. If bumping into another Rankin constitutes a conflict of interest, Rankin wouldn't be able to do anything at all as councillor.

And really, a sister? I love them and all, but please don't hold me accountable for anything my sisters do. As for Reg Rankin, he and his sister are both independent adults, live in different houses, have different lives.

More to the point, there's no financial conflict for Rankin---he doesn't stand to benefit directly, and neither does his sister. Presumably, no matter whether the school is sold to a developer or not, Rankin's sister will maintain her job according to her job performance, and nothing else.

I didn't know his sister worked at (not for) NECHC, but he's been upfront about it, and answered all my questions directly. I don't see this as an issue, and doubly so in that Rankin voted on the losing side in any event, but I thought I should at least mention it, lest I be included in the conspiracy.

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