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Hearings begin today in judicial inquiry into Collus sale

Hearings will take place this week on the first phase - the sale of 50 per cent of Collus shares to Powerstream - of the judicial inquiry.
CollingwoodToday/Erika Engel

Today marks the first day of hearings related to the judicial inquiry into the sale of 50 per cent of Collus shares to Powerstream in 2012.

The hearings are open to the public and begin at 10 a.m. today. They will be streamed live on Rogers TV and online here.

The inquiry was called by council on Feb. 26, 2018, by a formal motion requesting an inquiry into both the sale and spending of the proceeds.

The sale of 50 per cent of Collus shares to Powerstream took place in 2012. Proceeds from the $15 million (in cash and dividends) sale were used to cover the costs of two new fabric-membrane structures for Centennial Aquatic Centre and Central Park Arena.

Since then, the purchase of the membrane structures has become the subject of a police investigation and a protest on the steps of town hall. The town hired lawyer William McDowell to look into the sale and spending of proceeds. He brought his findings to council in an in camera session and public presentation on Feb. 26, where he recommended a judicial inquiry. He provided council with a list of what he said were unanswered questions about the sale and spending, and those questions included whether or not there was effective oversight.

He suggested an inquiry would help clear the air.

A judge in a judicial inquiry does have the ability to obtain documents and interview individuals under oath.

The inquiry

In April, Justice Frank Marrocco was appointed as judge over the inquiry. Kate McGrann is the lead counsel for the inquiry. The first community meeting took place August 13, where Justice Frank Marrocco introduced himself and his team.

“The task of the inquiry is to find out how and why the problem attracted the public’s attention and interest occured to determine whether there is a problem and if there is, how similar problems can be avoided in the future,” Marrocco told a packed Community Room on the third floor of the library.

The next task was to establish the participants who would have standing in the inquiry. Parties were encouraged to apply, and they appeared in a public meeting on participation and funding on August 14. Eight parties were granted standing including: Alectra Utilities Corporation (formerly PowerStream); Paul Bonwick; Ian Chadwick; Collus PowerStream Corp; Sandra Cooper; Tim Fryer; Edwin Houghton; and the Town of Collingwood.

Another public hearing took place Oct. 29, at which time Justice Marrocco set a deadline of the end of November for all parties to submit documents relevant to the inquiry.

On April 9, the judicial inquiry counsel released a “foundation document” which is a summarized chronology of events leading up to the sale and for some time after it, put together by counsel using more than 400,000 documents submitted.

The hearings will proceed in three phases.

The first phase of the inquiry hearings deal with the sale, the second with the spending of proceeds, and the final phase will include recommendations presented by Justice Marrocco. Phases one and two will take place this month and in May. The policy phase takes place in June.

Watch for updates from the hearings.


Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter, photographer and community editor.
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