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Arbitration denied

A judge has denied the city’s request to have a legal matter involving Horizon Wind Inc. put on hold in favour of arbitration, and has also ordered the city to pay the company $15,000 in legal costs.

Justice Whitaker of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice rejected the City of Thunder Bay’s request on Tuesday. In his decision, Whitaker decided the arbitration proposal from the city did not apply to the issues raised in Horizon’s statement of claim.

According to a Horizon Wind Inc. news release the judge concluded that the option agreement, which is at the heart of the legal action, did not contain an arbitration clause.

City manager Tim Commisso said the city is disappointed with the judge’s decision. City council will meet Monday night to discuss the city’s options after receiving confirmation on Whitaker’s decision Tuesday afternoon Commisso added.

“This certainly is a legal matter we’re putting a lot of priority on,” Commissio said. “We’ll look at our next steps are.”

Commisso said he hasn’t seen the details of the decision, but in “essence” it refers to whether or not there was an arbitration clause in the option to lease agreement.

“Arbitration is in the lease there’s no question about that,” Commisso said. “The question is whether arbitration was actually part of the option-to-lease agreement.”

While the city will discuss its next steps over the next couple of weeks, Commisso said he couldn’t elaborate because it is a legal matter.

“Obviously this is a sensitive matter and we’ll be dealing with it in closed session,” Commisso said.

Horizon filed a $126-million lawsuit against the city on Oct. 19 after council approved 14 of the company’s 18 planned turbine locations. Tuesday’s court ruling allows the Toronto-based company to move forward with that claim.

Horizon and the city agreed in 2007 to a city-owned site south of the Big Thunder Nordic Park for the company to build a wind farm. But the province killed those plans, which led to the little publicized decision to move the park to the Nor’Wester mountain range.

That decision led to public backlash and council spent the better part of 2010 debating the issue. Council ultimately decided to approve the majority of the turbine locations, which did not satisfy the company.

Horizon Wind Inc. sent a news release to local media confirming the judge’s decision, but company officials were unable to provide further statement.