Skip to content

Politically-charged graffiti sprayed across side of Central Park Arena

The graffiti referenced matters investigated during the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry

When it comes to at least one person’s view of the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry results, the writing is literally on the wall. 

Over the weekend, a person or persons tagged the north side of Central Park Arena with politically-charged graffiti. 

The graffiti read: “#Disgrace, Bonwick’s Bubble, Cooper’s Cover-up, Lloyd’s Lies, Houghton’s House, #LockThemUp.” 

Former mayor Sandra Cooper, her brother Paul Bonwick, former deputy mayor Rick Lloyd, and former Collus CEO and Collingwood CAO Ed Houghton were all referenced in the commissioner’s final report following the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry.

Part of the inquiry involved investigating the decisions that led to purchasing a fabric membrane structure and using it to build Central Park Arena.

Town officials have confirmed the graffiti went up around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 7), based on footage from closed-circuit television cameras on the exterior of the building. 

The paint was removed by staff on Sunday. 

“Although staff were successful in removing the visible paint, we are having to get in touch with the building manufacturer and possibly look at the repair/replacement costs as there are concerns regarding what has leached into the fabric and the longer-term effects of the damage,” said Dean Collver, acting executive director of customer and corporate service for the town of Collingwood. “We are hoping that the repairs will not be too costly.” 

The town has reported the graffiti to OPP. 

Collingwood OPP Constable Martin Hachey confirmed OPP were called regarding the incident. He said police are investigating and no charges have been laid yet. 

Collver had no comment on the content of what was written, but said staff was “tremendously disappointed” in the vandalism to public property. 

“We work very hard to efficiently maintain all of the spaces we are responsible for, and regardless of motivations, vandalism has a negative impact on these efforts, and comes at a cost to the community,” said Collver. “There are many ways that opinions may be expressed that are not destructive and at the expense of added cost to the taxpayer.” 

Mayor Brian Saunderson said the graffiti is “unfortunate” but said he understands the frustration expressed. 

“People are realizing the process has significantly and permanently harmed our community,” said Saunderson. “I understand the public’s frustration and shock, but this is unfortunate and obviously not the way to express the frustration.” 

The mayor encouraged people who wish to express their frustration to contact town hall and/or MPP Jim Wilson with letters supporting the implementation of the 306 recommendations included in the commissioner’s final report. Some of the recommendations suggest changes to provincial legislation. 

The graffiti is evidently a response to the findings in Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco’s report following the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry. The report was released last week. 

In his final report, the commissioner noted a long-standing relationship between Bonwick, Cooper, Houghton, and Lloyd. 

"Their family relationships were generational, and their personal relationships were complex and interrelated," stated Marrocco in his report.

Marrocco identified what he saw as a cover-up to conceal Bonwick’s involvement as a lobbyist in the deal between the town and BLT construction to build two Sprung structures, including the one at Central Park Arena that was tagged on the weekend. 

Bonwick received about $1 million between the Collus share sale in 2012 and the deal to buy the Sprung structures, which were paid for using Collus share sale proceeds. 

Houghton knew of Bonwick’s involvement, but did not reveal his knowledge when asked about Bonwick’s involvement, the inquiry found. 

The commissioner’s report also noted then-deputy mayor Rick Lloyd interfered with staff reports to push for a Sprung structure for Centennial Aquatic Centre and Central Park Arena. 

Marrocco noted Cooper “sought and relied” on Houghton’s advice, and did not disclose her brother’s work with PowerStream during council’s votes to sell 50 per cent of Collus to PowerStream.

The full report from Marrocco is available online here.

Reader Feedback

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
Read more