How Guelph fumbled the compost plant debacle

Tribune columnist Alan Pickersgill whose views may be charitably described as left of centre in the political spectrum, sees the $32 million compost plant calamity as an opportunity.

Alan, I have to hand it to you, you are one blue-sky optimist.

He suggests that construction of the plant could have been a 3P project – public, private partnership. Well, that didn’t happen and was never considered. The taxpayers are on the hook for this debacle.

Name one 3P project that Guelph City Council has created in the past five years?

And the compost project won’t invite private investment. What private organization would partner with the city after what has occurred?

Now the downtown Library project is being considered as a 3P project. One of the problems with this theory is the financial track record of the Farbridge administration. The city finances are stretched to the limit and this makes them less than attractive as a partner. It is ludicrous that a large project such as the downtown library costing $53 million that any private enterprise would be interested. And that estimate is three years old.

What bothers most people is that the city lied about the source of the odours emanating from compost plant. Test runs using wet garbage started last September.

To now say through a barrage of press releases to the timid local media that the matter is under full investigation is like closing the barn door after the horse has been stolen. It is high irony that the city has hired an independent consultant costing $16,000 to review the situation,

Typical council pattern: When the stuff hits the fan, hire a consultant who rarely reports to the taxpayers.

Truth was stolen in this case and there must be an independent public enquiry to examine this disaster from inception to the present. If not, there will be half-baked promises and the Guelph Waste Coalition will balk at the first sniff, depending which way the wind blows.

No matter what the contractor does now or the city brain trust publishes, there will always be the threat of odour to create taxpayer conflict.

This is a long-term mistake that while haunt future councils and taxpayers will be left holding the bag.

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