How about the report that suggested there was no violation of The Municipal Act during the Chairmanship of Chad Collins over the Hamilton Waterfront Trust? To recap, the commissioner was asked to look into the HWT’s attempts to conceal financial losses, lawsuits and unauthorized payments from the city treasury to HWT. Mr. Basse said that the Deed of Trust establishing the trust and the lack of specifics therein trumped the Municipal Act responsibilities defined for councillors and supported by their oath of office.

It raises the following question; when does a councillor cease to be a councillor in the performance of his or her duties as an appointee to an “arms-length” body like the HWT or Conservation Authority? Is not the councillor’s first duty to his or her role as a councillor by virtue of the oath they take?

Basse’s finding that the Executive Director of the Waterfront Trust was solely responsible for mismanagement of public funds and deficiencies in the financial reporting is perplexing.  Is there no role for the Board in the fiduciary responsibility of the organization and the fulfilment of the mandate of the Deed of Trust, however lacking in the finer details? Is their sole responsibility only to hire and fire the Executive Director?

With respect to the Auditors, Mr Basse’s report created the impression that there was only one auditor involved at the crucial time when an adverse opinion was issued by Guyatt Wood Moffat. When they were unable to reconcile the report with HWT, they bowed out or were replaced by Deloitte Touche who promptly gave them a pass literally using the same numbers. Why was the existence of two Audit firms not mentioned in the Basse  report? The original audit report made mention of potential conflicts of interest. Why was that information purged from the report? It was part of the adverse opinion.

Finally, was it not the responsibility of the sitting councillors that the operations of HWT should have complied with and been in harmony with the procurements, licensing and hiring policies and procedures of it’s funder the City of Hamilton? Apart from the Deed of Trust that established the organization in 2000, where is the formal agreement spelling out the details of the business relationship between its funder, the City of Hamilton (the taxpayers) and the Hamilton Waterfront Trust?  It is the sincere hope of this writer and many others in the community that the serious financial and management issues detailed in the IC report will still be addressed.

View the entire report here

Gary Santucci

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

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