Collingwood residents rally in wake of allegations
Collingwood Connection photo
by John Edwards Collingwood Connection
As members of council entered the chambers for their meeting, a crowd chanted “We want answers.”
This was a portion of a group of a about 90 people who rallied outside town hall prior to the June 25 meeting.
The rally came on the heels of the release of a court document in an OPP investigation showing a firm owned by former MP Paul Bonwick, the brother of Mayor Sandra Cooper, received a $756,000 payment for being a consultant for a construction firm hired to build new recreation facilities. There were also allegations of fraud against Bonwick and former chief administrative officer Ed Houghton.
Both have denied any wrongdoing. No charges have been filed or been proven in court.
The documents released did not allege Cooper of wrongdoing or that she knew of Bonwick’s involvement.
Cooper started the meeting with a prepared statement.
“I have deep respect for the taxpayers of Collingwood,” she said. “There are no allegations against me.”
Cooper said she has had many family members who have served the community.
“I have many friends and family who continue to support me,” she said. “I will continue to co-operate with the OPP and the judicial inquiry.”
There were some in the audience calling on Cooper to resign her position.
Ulli Rath was one of the people at the rally and said he wants answers of what went on.
“We, the people of Collingwood, have been told nothing,” he said. “We want the truth and people on council who have honesty and integrity.”
Marg Scheben-edey said her goal was to raise awareness of the issues facing the town.
“For me, it’s about the failure of the process in the Town of Collingwood,” she said. “I think everybody has a different motivation for being here.”
In July 2014, the OPP anti-rackets branch was attempting to secure a production order for bank records in their investigation into alleged wrongdoing surrounding the construction of new recreation facilities in Collingwood.
In 2012, the town spent about $12 million to build the Central Park Arena and the Centennial Aquatic Centre. The facilities, featuring fabric membrane structures, were produced by Sprung and built by BLT construction.