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Council sworn to secrecy amid concern over appointments to board of London Hydro: Here’s what we know

Some city councillors are sounding the alarm about pending appointments to the Board of Directors at London Hydro— but confidentiality rules forbid them from explaining why they’re so concerned.

“A terrible injustice was done here,” Coun. Sam Trosow told CTV News following a debate about filling two vacancies on the hydro board. “I do not feel that I am at liberty to go into detail about it— which is why I was choosing my words very carefully.”

On Tuesday, the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee (SPPC) summoned the CEO of London Hydro and a representative of the board to a closed door meeting to discuss the board’s selection of two preferred candidates from a list of seven applicants.

When council chambers reopened, the public portion of the debate heard from several councillors expressing concerns— but careful not to divulge confidential details.

“I have concerns about the (hydro) board, and if we are going to appoint, I would also like a review of the current board members,” Coun. Susan Stevenson told colleagues.

“I'm very concerned about the innuendo that is out there in the community,” said Coun. Trosow.

Trosow and Stevenson are unlikely allies, often sparring during debates and representing opposite sides of the political spectrum on council.

Coun. Peter Cuddy expressed frustration, “This has become a toxic situation, and despite the best efforts, this will never be corrected without a new member being appointed to the board.”

Publicly available information about the appointment process is limited.

Seven individuals applied for the two vacancies: Tom Brett, Cedric Gomes, Tracy Gustafson, Lorri Lowe, Margaret Parks, Robert C. Watson, and Tim Watson.

On July 8, the Chair of London Hydro’s Board of Directors Connie Graham sent a letter informing council that two individuals (Tim Watson and Tracy Gustafson) were being recommended to fill the pending vacancies.

“The London Hydro Board of Directors has undertaken the modernized, Council-approved recruitment, interview and nomination process to support the election of two new director positions on the Board by London City Council,” reads the letter.

However, later that month council delayed the appointments, instead requesting a representative of the board to appear at an upcoming meeting.

On Tuesday, London Hydro’s CEO and a board member attended the closed door meeting to discuss how the seven applicants were narrowed down to two recommendations.

When the committee returned to public session, a motion by Coun. Susan Stephenson to appoint Tim Watson and Cedric Gomes was defeated 4-11.

After more debate, a majority of council supported the recommendation from the hydro board, selecting Tim Watson and Tracy Gustafson.

Coun. Corrine Rahman sits on the hydro board, but spoke to CTV News from her perspective as a city councillor, “This was a council approved process that London Hydro undertook. So if there is a process concern, that would be for council to deal with.”

As sole shareholder of the public utility, the City of London is responsible for appointing members to the hydro board.

London Hydro provides a $5 million dividend to the city each year which council directs to cover expenses in the municipal budget.

CTV News asked Trosow if Londoners can continue to have confidence in the London Hydro Board of Directors given some of the council comments made in during the meeting?

“No,” was his blunt response.

Rahman responded to the same question this way, “Londoners have every reason to be confident in the decision making of council as we go to make a decision about London Hydro.”

Trosow intends to bring forward a motion at a future committee meeting asking for a formal review.

Council is anticipated to finalize the appointments at a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 26. Top Stories

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