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Judge rejects Saskatoon mayoral candidate's lawsuit to halt housing accelerator changes

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A judge has rejected a Saskatoon mayoral candidate’s bid for a court injunction on zoning changes required for the city to access federal housing accelerator funds.

Cary Tarasoff filed a statement of claim against the city on Friday, hoping to delay or halt zoning changes that would allow developers to build taller and higher-density residential buildings without a special permit. He claims the move could overtax the city’s aging infrastructure, like sewers, roadways and the landfill, and the federal government’s tight timelines to access funding leave little room for engineering assessments.

“They don't realize the devastation that this can cause and also the financial harm. Our taxes are going up leaps and bounds, and that's nothing compared to what's coming," he told CTV News on Monday.

In a fiat released Tuesday, King’s Bench Justice Natasha Crooks rejected his request, saying it would involve the court meddling with the affairs of a duly elected municipal government.

“The plaintiff appears to be asking the court to intervene and prevent a zoning decision from being made or a bylaw from being passed or enacted, but in his application references no authority that would permit him to pursue the injunctive relief he seeks,” Crooks wrote in the decision obtained by CTV News.

Tarasoff, a long-time vocal critic of city council, also has his hat in the ring for the mayoral race in November. He realized suing the city he hopes to run puts him in a weird position, but he told CTV News on Monday that he felt the need to act quickly.

“For the people that start to figure out what's going on, it'll be too late. I want to have already been fighting in their favor ahead of time."

Citing a 2002 Queen's Bench decision from a dispute between an organized hamlet and a rural municipality, Crooks says the appropriate place to dispute a lawful decision of city council is in the voting booth.

"This appears to be a disagreement by a voter with the direction being taken by city council. As stated by [Justice] Rothery J., the remedy is their vote at election time. The court will not involve itself with the affairs of a duly elected council unless it has acted illegally," she wrote.

"This application will not proceed."

The proposed zoning changes are the subject of a public hearing on Thursday at city hall. With close to 50 speakers signed up, it’s sure to be a lively debate.

-With files from Keenan Sorokan

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