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Bike path should be finished before lawsuit settled

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WINNIPEG - The Assiniboine Bikeway will likely be finished before an attempt to stop the $120,000 project comes before a judge.

A group of businesses located near the Midtown Bridge appeared before the Court of Queen's Bench today in an attempt to get a court date to stop the bikeway, which the businesses contend is impairing traffic flow on the east side of the Broadway-Assiniboine neighbourhood.

But a lawyer for the City of Winnipeg filed a motion to remove the legal counsel for the businesses from the case, said Joey Pollock, who is representing the businesses.

Effectively, the city argues Pollock can’t represent area business 10 Donald Street, because its president – Campbell Marr partner Douglas Mackenzie – has filed an affidavit in the case. Campbell Marr is housed within 10 Donald Street.

"The city contends no member of the Campbell Marr law firm can represent the businesses because Mr. Pollock’s partner Doug MacKenzie has given evidence in this matter dealing with his role as counsel for the businesses about matters at issue in the litigation," a city spokesman said in a statement.

The city also attempted to prevent the injunction from being heard on the grounds it is baseless.

"There will be snow on the ground before this matter will be heard," Pollock said in an interview. "It certainly could be December or later."

The bikeway project is scheduled to be completed by the end of October.

Pollock said he respects the city's right to use procedure but considers the city's argument to be frivolous.

The city’s motion has yet to be heard. Lawyers for the city and the businesses will appear in court tomorrow to set the time parameters for the hearing of the city’s motion.

City spokesman Steve West declined to comment further.

The bikeway is one of 35 projects that's part of a $20.4-million, city-wide active transportation upgrade, funded by all three levels of government.

Several of the projects have been the subject of intense criticism from residents, leading politicians such as Mayor Sam Katz and River Heights Coun. John Orlikow to complain about the city's consultation procedures.

City active-transportation managers have argued they have conducted more consultation than private developers routinely do.

The active-transportation work must be completed before the end of March -- which effectively means before the snow falls, given that concrete can not poured over the winter -- in order to comply with federal infrastructure-funding rules.

Last week, Katz told reporters he did not believe the short timeline had anything to do with the controversy.

History

Updated on Thursday, September 23, 2010 at 2:10 PM CDT: Adds quotes

2:26 PM: Minor edits throughout

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