Dan Mozier on the Farbridge Follies


Editor’s note: The following contains excerpts from a recent letter published in the Guelph media pointing out the shortcomings of the Farbridge administration. Mr. Mozier, a former city councillor, is part of a growing number of citizens alarmed and dissatisfied with the way the city is being managed.


One must believe that 2011 was not a great year for the Farbridge Follies. The former Farbridge campaign slogan on “putting Guelph back on track” became the year of memorable derailments.

Upon opening the “new and improved” $33 million compost plant and anxious to bask in its success, the Mayor quickly proclaimed that Guelph was back in its role as an “environmental leader”. Is that what this was about? Bragging rights?

Then the stink from the plant occurred and the Ministry of Environment (MOE) verified complaints of odours. The plant was ordered to stop receiving wet waste November 25 and the material was sent to a St. Thomas landfill.

Now there is nothing wrong with composting as a partial solution to processing wet waste. But the city communications staff stated the plant was in a “commissioning stage” and problems should be expected.

The MOE director for this area has denied that there was any provision for a “commissioning stage” prior to providing the Certificate of Approval for the plant.

Looks like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

City staff issues also escalated in 2011. The revolving door at city hall just kept turning. Gags were placed on several departures of key mid-level managers with financial details unobtainable.

While the city stated that it was protecting the privacy of Chief Financial Officer Margaret Neubaur, the facts are she was fired on the spot.  Her replacement lasted five days on the job before decamping.

Next was the case of Robert Walters a planning manager who threw in the towel after only five months on the job. In leaving, he released an independent consultant’s report identifying serious management issues with senior management and council. His boss Planning Chief James Riddell, who left to join the city staff in St Catharines followed him.

A case of bullying was forcing Coun. Bob Bell off the Non-Profit Housing Board because he asked staff for information. The Gang of Eight on Council interpreted the request as a conflict of interest.

Mr. Bell requested that staff compare the development of affordable housing by the public and private sector.  Seems like a reasonable request to me. Where exactly is the conflict of interest?

Bullying incident number two was the removal of Coun. Gloria Kovach from the Police Services Board. CTV reported: “Leanne Piper was behind the motion to remove Kovach from the position and then nominated herself for the job”.

Piper replied that it was unfortunate that the move is being characterized as personal but it’s not unusual for council to reconsider decisions including committee appointments. Unfortunately, Ms. Piper did not follow the procedural bylaw regarding a motion to reconsider a previous decision of council.

Regardless, not one member of the Gang of Eight even bothered to read the minutes that appointed Coun. Kovach for a four-year term on the Police Services Board. Those minutes showed that council voted unanimously for her appointment.

This episode amounts to the first act of the theatre of the absurd

2011 is Mayor Farbridge’s year of “annus horribilis.”

Dan Mozier








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