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Wasaga Beach CAO makes allegations of a cover-up by the previous administration

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Wasaga Beach's chief administration officer (CAO) dropped a political bombshell in council on Thursday, with allegations the previous administration engaged in questionable behaviour.

The Town's CAO, Andrew McNeill, alleged the previous administration destroyed or erased hundreds of thousands of town records and documents in the days following the election last October.

"What were the officers of the corporation and, more specifically, the CAO trying to hide?" McNeill said. "This went well beyond standard policies and procedures. It's actually not allowed to do what was done here, so yes, I do believe that there was something that was attempted to be covered up."

The alleged document destruction is said to be connected to the previous council's dealings concerning the business park, beachfront development, and arena and library real estate, dating back to 2018.

McNeill suspects his predecessor directed and carried out the destruction of records and wiping of servers to conceal certain information.

The Town said it's believed the previous council was misled regarding negotiations, appraisals, and the values of town lands being sold to developers.

Wasaga Beach Mayor Brian Smith disclosed that the total discrepancy meant a loss for taxpayers ranging from roughly $8 million to $30 million.

The mayor said the information came to light when staff members raised concerns, prompting an investigation.

"I don't believe at this point there's anyone currently employed that may have been involved in any of this," Smith noted. "There are people currently employed that balked at the whole idea and spoke up and disagreed with it."

Wasaga Beach Ratepayers Association President Peter Gribbin said the organization knew some things "didn't look right" with the last council.

"But we didn't have any real opportunity for public engagement or questioning because we were shut down. But hearing today what we've heard, I think we're just shocked," Gribbin said.

The Town now wants the Attorney General to investigate the alleged destruction of records and pursue charges if appropriate - this as the OPP reviews the evidence and the claims that the previous administration may have broken laws in its dealings with developers and the alleged destruction of records at town hall.

CTV News' attempts to reach the town's former CAO, George Vadebonceour, for comment were unsuccessful at the time of this report.

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