By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
After a long battle with cancer, and a recent illness that has kept from the council chambers for all of 2018, Roger Anderson, the Region of Durham’s regional chair for the last 20 years, has passed away.
“It is with heavy hearts that The Regional Municipality of Durham announces the passing of Roger Anderson, our Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer, following a courageous battle with cancer,” reads a statement released by the region this morning. “We send our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, and colleagues at this difficult time. Anderson was a force in our community, and he will be profoundly missed.”
Anderson was Durham Region’s longest serving regional chair, and also became the first person officially elected into job in 2014. Prior to his illness, he maintained a near perfect attendance record at council and committee meetings.
Prior to that, Anderson served as a constable with the Durham Regional Police for 10 years from 1978 to 1988. He became involved in politics in 1985 when he wanted to see more ice rinks built in the Town of Ajax, and decided to do something about it. He was elected in 1985 as a regional councillor and deputy mayor for Ajax, a post he would hold from 1991 to 1997.
During his time with the region, Anderson served in many roles, he was chair of the Durham Region Transit Commission since its inception in 2006 and served several terms as Chair of the DRPS Board. He was active in the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) for 25 years, including a two-year term as president. He played a critical role in gaining gas tax funding for transit and infrastructure for municipalities.
Locally, Anderson was on the Board of Directors for the Durham Strategic Energy Alliance and WindReach Farms. He served on the GO Transit board for many years and was on the founding board of Metrolinx, with the goal of improved transportation connectivity for Durham residents. Anderson was also a Director of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Chair of the Ontario Caucus.
“Known for his sometimes stern demeanour in running Regional Council meetings, Anderson made a conscious effort to show his ‘kinder, gentler’ side over the past few years,” the regional statement reads. “He appreciated the spirit of Christmas, a good round of golf, and any music with a tune that could be whistled. Behind the occasional impatient response was a man who had only the best interests of Durham Region at heart.”
“It was my distinct honour to serve Chair Anderson over the past 24 years,” said Garry Cubitt, Durham Region’s Chief Administrative Officer. “He was fiercely proud of the Region, its staff, residents, businesses and institutions. He was an unwavering advocate for Durham Region everywhere he travelled and with everyone he met. He was Durham’s most vocal and energetic supporter.”
A book of condolences will be available at The Regional Municipality of Durham Headquarters, located at 605 Rossland Road East in Whitby. Flags at all Regional facilities will also be flown at half-mast in his memory. Visitation arrangements will be communicated on the Region’s website, durham.ca, as details become available. In lieu of flowers, the region advises that memorial donations may be made to the Ajax-Pickering Hospital Foundation, or a local charity of your choice.