Oshawa sues Highway of Heroes Ride organizer
City looking to collect on bill for 2011 event
Reka Szekely Apr 04, 2013 - 4:35 AM
Oshawa sues Highway of Heroes Ride organizer. OSHAWA -- Heroes Highway Ride and Rally organizer Lou DeVuono has asked the City of Oshawa to forgive a bill for the 2011 event in Oshawa after the City took him to small claims court. Mr. DeVuono was charged $5,600 for City services, including street closures and garbage collection. April 2, 2013. Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
OSHAWA -- A Durham man who organized a motorcycle rally to support the troops is asking the City of Oshawa to forgive a bill for the event after the City sued him in small claims court.
Lou DeVuono is the founder and organizer of the Heroes Highway Ride and Rally, now in its fifth year. In 2011, the ride ran from Quinte West, home of CFB Trenton, along the section of Hwy. 401 known as the Highway of Heroes to downtown Oshawa, ending at the McLaughlin Armouries. At the time, Mr. DeVuono said, he felt Oshawa was the perfect place to hold the event since the city is home to the Ontario Regiment.
In January of that year, Mr. DeVuono appeared before council and the ride was endorsed by councillors. However, during the budget process that year, council rejected a $19,300 grant application for in-kind services for the event. Staff had recommended against approving the grant based on the submitted financial statements, which showed other sources of funding.
Mr. DeVuono made the decision to move forward.
"It essentially was too late, I had made the commitment to hold the event there," he said, adding that organizers did their best to reduce the cost of City services, adding the ride is a non-profit event running on a shoestring budget with sponsors mainly donating in-kind services.
The ride was a success, drawing thousands to the downtown.
Following the event, Mr. DeVuono got a bill for $5,600 from the City of Oshawa and a bill for $3,600 from the Region of Durham, he said. City services included street closures and signs, garbage collection, the use of picnic tables and some fencing. The Regional portion is due to the fact that part of the event was on a Regional road and also needed signs for the street closure.
"This is the only jurisdiction I've worked with that put a bill on it," said Mr. DeVuono. "I've had the event in Bowmanville, I've had it in Whitby, I'm having it in Whitby again this year ... even the City of Toronto which closed the DVP for us."
A letter from Mr. DeVuono asking that his bill be zeroed out went to the City's corporate services committee last week and was referred to legal services.
The City's solicitor declined to comment on the case until it's concluded, but confirmed the case is pending in small claims court.
Generally speaking, the City has a policy for partnership grants that exceed $500, including grants for in-kind services. The policy requires that the grant be approved during the budget process.
However, both Mr. DeVuono and his co-organizer, Graeme Hume, said they felt that when the City endorsed the event, it included covering the City services.
"It's a public demonstration of support for the troops and their families, and these people just want to suck everything they can out of it for themselves," said Mr. Hume, who served in the Ontario Regiment from 1983 to 2010.
Prior to being involved with the ride, Mr. Hume sold merchandise such as T-shirts to benefit the military family resource centre at CFB Trenton, first to his co-workers at General Motors in Oshawa and then to the greater community.
He said there is a great deal of local support for the troops and thinks residents would be upset by the City suing Mr. DeVuono.
"The people of Durham Region they support the troops and it's not just lip service but they wear the stuff which other families see on Fridays ... this is what really burns my ass that these guys are so out of touch with their constituents."
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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.