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Eight granted standing for judicial inquiry into Collus sale

Justice Frank Marrocco released his ruling today.
Centennial pool. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

There will be eight participants in the Collingwood judicial inquiry to give their perspective and account of events leading up to and following the sale of 50 per cent of Collus shares to PowerStream in 2012.

The judge overseeing the judicial inquiry into the share sale and subsequent projects funded by the proceeds has decided who will be participating and to what level they will be permitted to participate in the investigation.

All those who applied for standing in the inquiry were granted their request. The participants include: Alectra Utilities Corporation, Paul Bonwick, Ian Chadwick, Collus PowerStream Corp, Mayor Sandra Cooper, Councillor Tim Fryer, Edwin Houghton and the Town of Collingwood.

Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco, the judge appointed for the judicial inquiry, put forward a report outlining his decisions for standing status and included his recommendations for granting funding to those who requested.

Alectra is the former PowerStream, who purchased 50 per cent of the Collus shares from the town in 2012.

Paul Bonwick is Mayor Cooper’s brother and a consultant hired by the contractors who installed the fabric membrane structures for the town, which were paid for with proceeds from the sale.

Ian Chadwick is a former councillor and was on town council at the time of the share sale.

Collus PowerStream Corp. is the current utility service for the town of Collingwood, and the result of the deal struck in 2012.

Mayor Sandra Cooper is the current mayor of Collingwood and was mayor at the time of the share sale and decision to build the recreation facilities with the share-sale proceeds.

Councillor Tim Fryer is a current Collingwood councillor and formerly the chief financial officer of Collus.

Edwin Houghton is the former CEO of Collus and former acting CAO for the town of Collingwood.

Marrocco recommended the town grant Cooper and Fryer’s request for funding to cover legal fees related to their participation in the inquiry. 

Alectra, Ian Chadwick, Collus PowerStream Corp and the Town of Collingwood did not apply for funding.

Bonwick and Houghton both applied for funding, but Marrocco suggested the town get more information before granting their requests for funding.

“[Bonwick] has not provided details of the assets and liabilities of his companies,” said Marrocco in his ruling, referring to Bonwick’s ownership of Compenso Communications and Green Leaf Distribution Inc. The judge recommended the town get that information before deciding on funding for Bonwick.

Houghton also applied for funding but did not provide details concerning his financial situation, according to Marrocco’s report. Houghton’s lawyer, Fred Chenoweth, indicated Houghton may have access to an alternative source of funding.

The judge recommended the town find out if Houghton is getting funding from elsewhere before granting town funds for his request.

There is no schedule posted yet for hearings. The inquiry counsel, Janet Leiper said the hearings will not likely take place before the municipal election. Justice Marrocco said the inquiry will be divided into three parts. The first part will deal with the sequence of events leading up to the transaction, the corporate relationships and the impact of the share sale. The second part will consider the events leading to the allocation of the proceeds, the payment of fees or benefits and the impact of the recreation facility construction. Money raised via the Collus share sale was spent on two new fabric membrane buildings; one for Centennial Aquatic Centre at Heritage Park and another for an arena at Central Park.

The final piece of the inquiry will consider broader policy and good governance issues arising from the findings of part one and two.

The Town of Collingwood was the only party granted standing for all three parts of the inquiry. Mayor Sandra Cooper, Ed Houghton, and Paul Bonwick have been granted standing for parts one and two. Alectra, Collus PowerStream and Tim Fryer were granted standing for part one only.

Those parties will be given access to inquiry documents, allowed at the counsel table, permitted to suggest and cross-examine witnesses for the inquiry, and make a closing submission.

Ian Chadwick will be permitted to submit a written timeline of events and activities as he requested.

For the full ruling on standing and funding for judicial inquiry participants, click here.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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