Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner steps into the compost plant saga

Gord Miller is Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner (ECO) and he has lots of opinions. Appointed by the Legislature, Miller oversees a wide range of environmental concerns.

The one most important to Guelph is its handling of solid waste. Miller claims to be familiar with the city’s new $33 million composting facility and its start-up problems. He adds that new approaches to dealing with waste must be tested. And then he adds: That includes moving to a cart collection system instead of using plastic bags.

That move alone has been estimated to cost Guelph another $15 million. So, according to the ECO, the city is committed to spend $48 million for a system that still requires testing.

That’s really expensive testing.

The ECO is urging the McGuinty government to make waste management one of its top priorities in 2012. While a noble sentiment, Miller should be reminded of the Provincial government’s $17 billion deficit.

In praising Guelph for taking on the tough waste management problems, he adds: “Within their ability to do so.”

This is where the narrative goes off the rails. It’s alright for a provincial bureaucrat to praise a project costing $48 million un which he has no responsibility paying for it.

Aside from winning the lottery, this city is in no financial condition to be used as a garbage guinea pig for Queen’s Park’s appointed social engineer. We have enough of those around here.

After spending time on the ECO website, Miller’s workload and areas of responsibility takes him far from the Watson Road compost plant that he endorses.

Further, he should speak with officials of the Ministry of Environment charged with ensuring the plant meets specifications. These include stopping the offensive odours spreading across the nearby neighbourhoods. They may have differing views.

Let’s let the Public Advisory Committee do its work evaluating the problems with the plant. Meanwhile, Big Brother should keep his nose out of it.

Isn’t ego a wonderful thing?

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