Roger Anderson, the long serving chair of Durham Region, has died after a lengthy battle with cancer.
The region’s longest serving chair and the first to be directly elected in 2014, Anderson is being remembered as a champion for Durham who regularly pressed the provincial and federal governments and issues that greatly impacted residents.
“It was my distinct honour to serve Chair Anderson over the past 24 years,” said Garry Cubitt, Durham Region’s Chief Administrative Officer. “He was fiercely proud of the Region, its staff, residents, businesses and institutions. He was an unwavering advocate for Durham Region everywhere he travelled and with everyone he met. He was Durham’s most vocal and energetic supporter.”
Formerly a constable with Durham Regional Police and also a real estate broker, he initially became involved in politics when he wanted to see more ice rinks in the Town of Ajax. His activism led to his election as an Ajax councillor in 1985 and then as a regional councillor and deputy mayor of the town. In 1997 he was selected to become chair of Durham.
Along the way he was chair of the Durham Region Transit Commission and of the Durham Region Police Services Board. He was active in the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) for 25 years, including a two-year term as president. Under his leadership, municipalities gained access to federal gas tax funding for infrastructure and transit. This gas tax funding was made permanent in 2008 and brings approximately $17 million dollars per year to Durham Region. He also continued to serve on the Executive of the AMO Board.
Locally, Anderson was on the board of directors for the Durham Strategic Energy Alliance and WindReach Farms. He served on the GO Transit board for many years and was on the founding board of Metrolinx, with the goal of improved transportation connectivity for Durham residents. On the national stage, Anderson was a Director of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Chair of the Ontario Caucus.
Many of Anderson’s achievements were honoured when he was named a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal — awarded to Canadians who demonstrate significant contributions and/or achievements. In 2016, he was honoured by the Ajax Rotary Club with the Pat Bayly Award in recognition of his local advocacy and accomplishments.
He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2016 and had undergone surgery in the fall of last year.
A book of condolences will be available at The Regional Municipality of Durham Headquarters, located at 605 Rossland Road East in Whitby. Flags at all Regional facilities will also be half-masted in his memory.
Visitation arrangements will be communicated on the region’s website, durham.ca, as details become available. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Ajax-Pickering Hospital Foundation, or a local charity of your choice.