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Town appoints three new third-party services to oversee transparency

Integrity commissioner and lobbyist registrar services to be provided by Principles Integrity, fairness monitoring services will be provided by RFP Solutions
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Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

More Collingwood Judicial Inquiry recommendations were met Monday night.

During their regular council meeting this week, councillors passed two bylaws to appoint Principles Integrity to act as the Town of Collingwood’s new integrity commissioner and lobbyist registrar. Jeffrey A. Abrams and Janice Atwood-Petkovski will be acting as principles through the new appointment.

“We are very happy with Principles Integrity’s experience and qualifications,” said town clerk Sara Almas, noting they currently represent about 50 municipalities across Ontario as integrity commissioners.

Previously, the Town of Collingwood received integrity commissioner services through a blanket arrangement of the County of Simcoe, where the county appointed Principles Integrity to act as integrity commissioner for its member municipalities under one agreement and one retainer, paid through the County of Simcoe’s annual budget. Any municipalities who were the subject of an investigation were then responsible to pay any Per Diem that accrued.

That agreement expires this year, and the recommendations out of Collingwood’s judicial inquiry recommended Collingwood procure its own integrity commissioner provider.

Once the Town of Collingwood signs an agreement directly with Principles Integrity, the town will be responsible for paying the retainer, which Almas estimated will come in at $1,000 per year.

In 2020, Almas said the total amount the town spent on integrity commissioner services was less than $2,000.

The lobbyist registrar responsibilities were previously being performed by the accountability and transparency officer internally.

“It was a recommendation of Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco in the Collingwood judicial inquiry that that person be an independent party from the Town of Collingwood, rather than a staff member,” said Almas.

Also during Monday’s meeting, Clerk Sara Almas provided an update on the town’s search for fairness monitoring services. Of five proposals received, the successful proponent was RFP Solutions.

Almas said market research had indicated that fairness monitoring services should be severed from the appointment of an integrity commissioner and a lobbyist registrar.

Fairness monitoring services provide client departments, government suppliers and taxpayers with independent assurance that public procurement processes are conducted in a fair, open and transparent way.

“Fairness monitors have specific expertise in procurement,” said Almas. “It was identified to us that because of the specific procurement expertise that is required for a fairness monitor service that it would be best to separate it from the integrity commissioner and lobbyist registrar service.”

“We did not receive any joint submissions for all three services,” she noted.

Mayor Brian Saunderson said the appointment should aid in procurement practices moving forward.

“(We’ll be) able to assure our residents that procurement is being done properly is a very positive step. We’re looking forward to seeing this in action,” said Mayor Brian Saunderson.

The bylaws were passed unanimously. Coun. Tina Comi was absent from the meeting.

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 14 years of experience to her role as reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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