$32 million did not solve Guelph’s compost plant smells

It’s troubling to hear about a resurgence of foul odours emanating from the new $32 million composting plant.

This was an accident waiting to happen. More odour complaints were made since November 11 than in the five years of operating the former facility.

As usual, the city waste management team pulled the wagons into a circle and announced it wasn’t their plant, but the stink was coming from other industries in the Watson Road area.

Why do I get the feeling these guys couldn’t manage a two-car funeral?

This project from the beginning has been shrouded in secrecy. This includes the decision to hire the same outfit to build a similar unit as the one in Hamilton that has been the source of scores of smell complaints.

Despite the efforts of the Guelph Waste Management coalition of residents, few details were shared with the neighbours and taxpayers of the operating costs. A deal was struck with the City of Waterloo to take their wet waste that is so convoluted that it would take an Einstein to figure it out. One thing is clear the deal allows Waterloo to control 2/3rds of the plant capacity. The contract was negotiated by a third party.

The plant was built to service a population some 20 years from now. The life expectancy of the plant is about 20 years. This was a gross mistake exacerbated by the city awarding the contract without approval of the Ministry of Environment’s approval of the method of waste collection.

The base operating cost has never been revealed by the city. The impact of the heavy Waterloo garbage trucks rolling regularly through the city was never considered. If it was, that too has not been revealed to the public.

One tires of the lack of openness on the part of city staff and Council. Too much of the public’s business is being conducted behind closed doors.

Let me count the ways.

The reason for firing Chief Finance Officer Margaret Neubauer has never been revealed as the staff hid behind the skirts of the lawyers. The taxpayers are left twisting in the wind as to what happened with this key manager.

Her Council appointed successor lasted one week on the job. One look at the books probably persuaded him the job was a potential career buster.
Imagine it only took one week for a senior manager from Kitchener to figure out the dire condition of Guelph’s finances.

Coun. Leanne Piper’s pet project, the resurrection of the derelict Loretto Convent, has soaked up money like a sponge. After four years, it is still not ready to be open to the public. We may never know the real cost of this project.

More than $10 million has been poured into the Hanlon Business Park but the line-up to build offices and plants there is shorter than a bobcat’s tail.

Now the city is stuck with a $10 million tab as its share for a posh new Wellington/Dufferin/Guelph Public Health complex on Stone Road costing $17 million. The question is where were the three city WDG Public Health Board representatives,including the Mayor, when this project was proposed? MIA! (Missing in Action).

Let’s not forget how city planners choked a major road through the centre of the city by reducing Norfolk Street from four lanes to two. Along with the $750,000 time clock for the Sleeman Centre, it has to be the number one foul up of the $66 million stimulus package that cost the city $22 million.

Can you imagine the chaos if the city had proceeded with a round-about at Norfolk and Paisley?

But this staff and Council have one quality: Chutzpah! The mayor even proudly claimed in her recent speech to the business people that the city had chutzpah.

The translation is one of being nervy, pushy and determined to have their way.

I believe we’ve had enough of that, thank you.

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1 Comment

Filed under Between the Lines

One response to “$32 million did not solve Guelph’s compost plant smells

  1. Great blog post. I enjoy reading an author who takes the time. I look forward to reading more of your work.

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