Collingwood Judicial Inquiry

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Collingwood Judicial Inquiry

The Judicial Inquiry into the 50% share sale of Collingwood Utility Services Corporation to PowerStream Inc. was requested by the Town of Collingwood by Resolution 042-2018.

The Inquiry’s mandate is to inquire into the sequence of events leading to the sale transaction, the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, fees and benefits paid to anyone in relation to the sale transaction and contracts entered into among the parties. The Inquiry will also look into the allocation of proceeds of the transaction for recreational facilities at Central Park and Heritage Park and any fees or benefits paid to any person or the entity involved in the creation of the recreational facilities. The Inquiry will examine the impact of these events on the ratepayers of the Town of Collingwood as they relate to the good governance of the municipality and make any recommendations the Associate Chief Justice may deem appropriate and in the public interest.

Judicial Inquiries are a way for governments to examine issues and problems outside the regular legislative process. Inquiries can help communities to benefit from independent, neutral consideration of matters in the public domain. Public inquiries can help develop public policy and make recommendations that will serve the public in the future.

The report of the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry is available at http://www.collingwoodinquiry.ca. In the first volume, pages 3 to 14 provide an Executive Summary of the Justice's review and findings.

How can you participate?

  • Participate during the virtual town hall discussion via ZOOM on April 7 (see details and link below)
  • Send in questions in advance (see below to submit a question or to read the Frequently Asked Questions prepared to-date)

Public Meeting Agenda: https://collingwood.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Id=836
To attend the Virtual Public Meeting, on April 7, please join us via ZOOM call.

When: Apr 7, 2021 04:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Collingwood Judicial Inquiry - Virtual Town Hall

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87496756059?pwd=c0UvNm51anN4Q1lyZ2cvdzJiNStYQT09

Telephone: +1 647 374 4685 or +1 647 558 0588 or +1 778 907 2071
Webinar ID: 874 9675 6059
Passcode: 103578


Frequently Asked Questions

Why did the Judicial Inquiry cost so much more than originally indicated?  

A judicial inquiry, once launched, must act independently and cannot be diverted from its mission of investigating for factual evidence. Although the final cost was an unexpected outcome, the Inquiry was launched to obtain answers to public concerns in a thorough, public, and transparent way. 

How much did the Judicial Inquiry cost, and what were the costs for? 

The original estimated budget for the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry was $1.6 million. To date, the Town has processed and paid over $8.2 million. The costs will continue to be tallied through the completion of all associated bills and will be posted to the Town’s website. 

The initial costing assumptions were based on a nine-month inquiry and approximately eight weeks of investigative work and eight weeks of actual hearings. Council and the public were made aware at the outset that billing rates, and length of the inquiry, would determine the actual expenditures. 

How are the costs of the Inquiry incurred? 

The costs of a judicial inquiry are comprised primarily of legal fees for both inquiry counsel and witnesses, researchers and data handlers, administrative staff, office space and equipment, travel expenses, and subject matter experts. 

The Town provided the initial scope of the work to be done and then the costs were incurred by the Commission as it carried out is work. By doing things such as providing the location for the sessions and some technical support, the Town managed fiscal exposure to the best of its ability and within the limits allowable to still enable an independent process for the Inquiry. 

Where did the funds came from and how will they be replenished? 

In June of 2020, Council made the decision to not use proceeds from the sale of the Collingwood Airport, and the remaining shares of the Town’s hydro utility, to fund the Inquiry without public consultation. The ensuing public engagement did not yield a strong desire by the public to have the asset sale proceeds be used for this purpose. 

Council have directed staff to utilize reserve and available in-year funds to pay for the Inquiry, and all costs to-date have been paid. Through future budgets, these reserves will be replenished. 

How does a judicial inquiry provide value for money? 

A judicial inquiry is a process that occurs in front of the public to ensure transparency and openness regarding the findings of an inquiry, and has the ability to compel the release of information. This ability is beyond the scope and powers of a municipality. 

Beyond this, it is incumbent upon all municipalities, and the Province, to use the findings and recommendations to improve the conditions of the community. Although it is a subjective judgment, value for money will be determined by the success of the judicial inquiry in providing recommendations and the municipality in implementing these recommendations. 

Can the report lead to criminal charges? 

The purpose of a judicial inquiry is not to determine criminality. 

The Town and public are aware that the OPP have described an investigation into possible wrongdoing related to the subject matter of the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry as open and ongoing. 

Does Council have a role in encouraging the OPP to act on findings resulting from the Judicial Inquiry? 

Council has no prescribed role in encouraging the OPP to act as a result of the Inquiry findings but may ensure that the OPP is aware of the Inquiry report. 

Can the Town sue any parties who pled or were found to have played a significant role in allowing the events to happen? 

Depending upon the facts and findings, the Town could seek to recover financial damages to the Town through legal means.  A thorough review, legal advice, and an understanding of balance between the costs to pursue recovery and the likely amount of a recovery would be required prior to a Council decision to proceed. 

Is it possible for participants within the Inquiry to sue each other? 

Yes, they could.  The Town may not be aware of this happening.  It is possible to submit periodic Freedom of Information requests to the Attorney General if there is a desire to know, however at this point it is unclear what value this information would have to the Town.  

Was any new information uncovered because of the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry? 

A large amount of information was made public during the Inquiry process, and the public was made aware of information that was unavailable previously. The full set of information from the Judicial Inquiry and the final report can be found via the Judicial Inquiry’s website at http://www.collingwoodinquiry.ca/



Collingwood Judicial Inquiry

The Judicial Inquiry into the 50% share sale of Collingwood Utility Services Corporation to PowerStream Inc. was requested by the Town of Collingwood by Resolution 042-2018.

The Inquiry’s mandate is to inquire into the sequence of events leading to the sale transaction, the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, fees and benefits paid to anyone in relation to the sale transaction and contracts entered into among the parties. The Inquiry will also look into the allocation of proceeds of the transaction for recreational facilities at Central Park and Heritage Park and any fees or benefits paid to any person or the entity involved in the creation of the recreational facilities. The Inquiry will examine the impact of these events on the ratepayers of the Town of Collingwood as they relate to the good governance of the municipality and make any recommendations the Associate Chief Justice may deem appropriate and in the public interest.

Judicial Inquiries are a way for governments to examine issues and problems outside the regular legislative process. Inquiries can help communities to benefit from independent, neutral consideration of matters in the public domain. Public inquiries can help develop public policy and make recommendations that will serve the public in the future.

The report of the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry is available at http://www.collingwoodinquiry.ca. In the first volume, pages 3 to 14 provide an Executive Summary of the Justice's review and findings.

How can you participate?

  • Participate during the virtual town hall discussion via ZOOM on April 7 (see details and link below)
  • Send in questions in advance (see below to submit a question or to read the Frequently Asked Questions prepared to-date)

Public Meeting Agenda: https://collingwood.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Id=836
To attend the Virtual Public Meeting, on April 7, please join us via ZOOM call.

When: Apr 7, 2021 04:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Collingwood Judicial Inquiry - Virtual Town Hall

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87496756059?pwd=c0UvNm51anN4Q1lyZ2cvdzJiNStYQT09

Telephone: +1 647 374 4685 or +1 647 558 0588 or +1 778 907 2071
Webinar ID: 874 9675 6059
Passcode: 103578


Frequently Asked Questions

Why did the Judicial Inquiry cost so much more than originally indicated?  

A judicial inquiry, once launched, must act independently and cannot be diverted from its mission of investigating for factual evidence. Although the final cost was an unexpected outcome, the Inquiry was launched to obtain answers to public concerns in a thorough, public, and transparent way. 

How much did the Judicial Inquiry cost, and what were the costs for? 

The original estimated budget for the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry was $1.6 million. To date, the Town has processed and paid over $8.2 million. The costs will continue to be tallied through the completion of all associated bills and will be posted to the Town’s website. 

The initial costing assumptions were based on a nine-month inquiry and approximately eight weeks of investigative work and eight weeks of actual hearings. Council and the public were made aware at the outset that billing rates, and length of the inquiry, would determine the actual expenditures. 

How are the costs of the Inquiry incurred? 

The costs of a judicial inquiry are comprised primarily of legal fees for both inquiry counsel and witnesses, researchers and data handlers, administrative staff, office space and equipment, travel expenses, and subject matter experts. 

The Town provided the initial scope of the work to be done and then the costs were incurred by the Commission as it carried out is work. By doing things such as providing the location for the sessions and some technical support, the Town managed fiscal exposure to the best of its ability and within the limits allowable to still enable an independent process for the Inquiry. 

Where did the funds came from and how will they be replenished? 

In June of 2020, Council made the decision to not use proceeds from the sale of the Collingwood Airport, and the remaining shares of the Town’s hydro utility, to fund the Inquiry without public consultation. The ensuing public engagement did not yield a strong desire by the public to have the asset sale proceeds be used for this purpose. 

Council have directed staff to utilize reserve and available in-year funds to pay for the Inquiry, and all costs to-date have been paid. Through future budgets, these reserves will be replenished. 

How does a judicial inquiry provide value for money? 

A judicial inquiry is a process that occurs in front of the public to ensure transparency and openness regarding the findings of an inquiry, and has the ability to compel the release of information. This ability is beyond the scope and powers of a municipality. 

Beyond this, it is incumbent upon all municipalities, and the Province, to use the findings and recommendations to improve the conditions of the community. Although it is a subjective judgment, value for money will be determined by the success of the judicial inquiry in providing recommendations and the municipality in implementing these recommendations. 

Can the report lead to criminal charges? 

The purpose of a judicial inquiry is not to determine criminality. 

The Town and public are aware that the OPP have described an investigation into possible wrongdoing related to the subject matter of the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry as open and ongoing. 

Does Council have a role in encouraging the OPP to act on findings resulting from the Judicial Inquiry? 

Council has no prescribed role in encouraging the OPP to act as a result of the Inquiry findings but may ensure that the OPP is aware of the Inquiry report. 

Can the Town sue any parties who pled or were found to have played a significant role in allowing the events to happen? 

Depending upon the facts and findings, the Town could seek to recover financial damages to the Town through legal means.  A thorough review, legal advice, and an understanding of balance between the costs to pursue recovery and the likely amount of a recovery would be required prior to a Council decision to proceed. 

Is it possible for participants within the Inquiry to sue each other? 

Yes, they could.  The Town may not be aware of this happening.  It is possible to submit periodic Freedom of Information requests to the Attorney General if there is a desire to know, however at this point it is unclear what value this information would have to the Town.  

Was any new information uncovered because of the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry? 

A large amount of information was made public during the Inquiry process, and the public was made aware of information that was unavailable previously. The full set of information from the Judicial Inquiry and the final report can be found via the Judicial Inquiry’s website at http://www.collingwoodinquiry.ca/



CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.
  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Under the heading of JI Process, specifically "Advice to other municipalities": With Council knowing what they know now in terms of the financial costs, not only to the Town but all participants including "publicly" held companies such as Alectra and the other utilities that participated, would they recommend that other municipalities proceed with a Judicial Inquiry similar in nature? Questions have been raised in terms of the Town's decision not to track Town staff costs associated with the JI notwithstanding public requests to do so as early as April 2018, with Council knowing what they know now in terms of the considerable time invested by Town staff, would they recommend to other municipalities to track Town staff's costs in a similar situation?

    DF asked 8 months ago

    A judicial inquiry is a process that occurs in front of the public to ensure transparency and openness regarding the findings of an inquiry, and has the ability to compel the release of information. This ability is beyond the scope and powers of a municipality. 

    Beyond this, it is incumbent upon all municipalities, and the Province, to use the findings and recommendations to improve the conditions of the community. Although it is a subjective judgment, value for money will be determined by the success of the judicial inquiry in providing recommendations and the municipality in implementing these recommendations. 

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    Can the current town staff and current town council acknowledge that there was a breach of public trust in 2012?

    blue bay sun rise asked 8 months ago

    Based on the evidence provided at the hearings and contained within the Report of the Collingwood Public Inquiry there are concerns raised regarding breach of public trust.

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    Can the Town confirm that there was a misappropriation of funds?

    blue bay sun rise asked 8 months ago

    Based on the evidence provided at the hearings and contained within the Report of the Collingwood Public Inquiry there are concerns raised regarding misappropriation of funds.

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    Was any collusion identified by the treasurer or director of finance?

    blue bay sun rise asked 8 months ago

    No

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    Legacy, Truth and Reconciliation: will any "cornerstones" or "plaques" dedicating the two multi-million dollar temporary plastic bubbles (sprung structures) be removed and replaced with simple and honest "Town of Collingwood, 2013" so that the town and the community can heal and move forward? The names of those who did the Town a dis-service should not be celebrated, enshrined, or immortalized.

    blue bay sun rise asked 8 months ago

    Your suggestion is included in the Staff Report for consideration by the Strategic Initiatives Committee May 3: https://collingwood.civicweb.net/document/73043/CAO%202021-05%20-%20CJI%20Follow-up.pdf?handle=A63EC0F224A54AB08344589ABA723DAE

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    Re: Further Legal Action. Is the Town aware of individuals or lawyers interested to sponsor or support a Collingwood resident class action suit against those accused of malfeasance?

    William asked 8 months ago

    The Town is not aware of any individuals or lawyers interested in sponsoring or supporting a Collingwood resident class action suit against those accused of malfeasance.  

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    Do we know if commissions we’re paid to any of the officers or directors? If so, is not illegal and why have charges not been made?

    Edward Rex Waylen asked 8 months ago

    We are not aware of any commissions paid to any officers or directors of the Town of Collingwood.  

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    With the release of the judicial inquiry report, have any further transactions or expenditures of the town between 1996 and 2016 been called into question?

    blue bay sun rise asked 8 months ago

    The Town is aware that the OPP may be investigating other matters. However, Council has not pursued any further investigation into other transactions or expenditures at this time, with the exception of asking what may be contained within the previous public utility records currently held by EPCOR.  

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    Was any fraud identified by the treasurer or director of finance?

    blue bay sun rise asked 8 months ago

    To-date the Treasurer/Director of Finance has not identified fraud.

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    With the release of the judicial inquiry report, are you able to acknowledge that through staff report EMC-2012-01, dated Aug. 27, 2012, and Council Resolutions No 374 and 375, dated Aug. 27, 2012, certain members of staff and council contravened the Municipal Act, 2001, including Section 290 of that Act and related Ontario Regulations?

    blue bay sun rise asked 8 months ago

    Section 290 of the Act is in reference, to an annual budget that must be submitted by a local municipality.  It requires that a budget must be adopted including “estimates of all sums require during the year for the purposes of the municipality”, and it sets broad parameters for the budget which were maintained in Collingwood.  It does not however mean that a municipality cannot change course (i.e., adopt a new project) throughout the year, where a vote of Council may deem it necessary.  We are not aware of a contravention of the Municipal Act by staff or Members of Council.

Page last updated: 06 April 2021, 06:11