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Time to be transparent

(Cartoon by George Longley)

Late last week Durham Regional Police fraud investigators closed the book on allegations laid against the City of Oshawa.

The allegations were connected to the city’s purchase of 199 Wentworth Street East in 2013 for a new works depot, and the subsequent controversy around city hall.

The situation has become one of Oshawa’s most infamous political topics, as the fallout led to the dissolution of the city’s auditor general position, and a number of people being arrested in council chambers during a September 2013 meeting.

Since then, a group of residents have been trying to untangle the web of information surrounding the purchase of the property through freedom of information requests and appeals.

In 2013, DRPS cleared the City of Oshawa of any criminal conduct, although some thought the investigation was lacking some important documents, such as a scathing report from former auditor general Ron Foster regarding the property purchase. Again, only days ago, police came to the same conclusion, with backing opinions from the OPP’s Anti-Racket Unit and the local Crown Attorney’s office.

While police are not investigating criminal activity, they did acknowledge infractions of the Municipal Act by the city at that time.

There are currently around 10,000 documents being prepared for public release that will hopefully shed some light on this entire situation.

These documents were originally slated to be released in August 2018, but here we sit seven months later, and not one document has been made public.

City staff have promised the public release will be made by March 31, 2019. With the city’s name cleared in the eyes of the law, it is imperative these documents are released by this date.

As stated by councillors Brian Nicholson and John Gray, failure to do so would cause the city embarrassment and damage its reputation.

This recently elected council has promoted more “openness and transparency.”

To live by this mantra, they, along with staff, must do whatever they can to get the documents out to the public by the end of this month. If not, it could likely lead to more residents thinking something “fishy” is going on at City Hall.