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Collingwood council calls for judicial inquiry into 2012 hydro sale

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In Collingwood
Feb 27th, 2018
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Deputy Mayor Brian Sanderson

Lawyer expects inquiry would cost more than $1 million

by John Edwards Collingwood Connection

The Town of Collingwood is calling for a judicial inquiry into the events surrounding the sale of 50 per cent of the town’s hydro company in 2012.

The town received a presentation on Monday from William McDowell, a lawyer with Lenczner Slaght, who was hired to look into the deal that saw 50 per cent of Collus sold to PowerStream.McDowell has more than 30 years’ experience as a litigation lawyer and served as associate deputy minister of justice for the federal government.

McDowell said there are “serious questions” regarding the sale, including who benefitted from the sale, potential conflicts involving senior management, lack of legal advice and council oversight of the transaction.

“We don’t know, what we don’t know,” he said. “It seems there wasn’t an annual business plan provided. Nobody knew what staff working for Collus PowerStream were being paid. That’s troubling.”

The vote was 5-1 with Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson and councillors Kathy Jeffery, Bob Madigan, Cam Ecclestone and Deb Doherty in favour. Mayor Sandra Cooper voted against, while Coun. Tim Fryer declared a conflict of interest as he previously worked for Collus. Mike Edwards and Kevin Lloyd were absent.

Cooper said the inquiry “will become a black cloud for future councils and municipal staff.”

“We are in 2018, we are no longer in 2012, we have made significant changes,” she said.

The motion called for a judge to look at a host of items, including the sequence of events leading to the sale, delegation of authority by council, fees paid to anyone in relation to the sale, and the allocation of funds to new recreation facilities.

McDowell said the costs wouldn’t be less than $1 million and, after a review of documents, any potential hearings weren’t likely to start until 2019

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