How Council turned Guelph into the lab-rat of sustainability

 A Four Part Series

Note to readers: This is the second part of a special guelphspeaks exclusive series of the state of the city and the many unanswered questions that taxpayers should be asking.  As usual, guelphspeaks urges all viewers to tell their friends and family to follow the blog that works to keep citizens aware of how their city works. No smoke and mirrors, just the unvarnished commentary and facts.


Part Two

Posted September 20, 2012

In six years, city council, dominated by Mayor Karen Farbridge and her majority cadre of environmentalists and heritage supporters , has increased city debt, property tax revenues, user fees and annual budgets. They’ve done it to accommodate its unsustainable drive to turn the city into the waste reduction, recycling and reusable capital of Canada.

And they’ve done it on the backs of we taxpayers.

Some $100 million has been spent or will be spent on projects all of which have failed to meet expectations or predictable results.

Here are Some questions that need answers:

            The Watson Road organic compost plant

Why build a $34 million compost plant that is six times the size needed to process Guelph’s wet waste of 10,000 tonnes per year?

What are the terms of the contract(s) with Maple Reinders, designer and builder of the compost plant?

How was this compost project financed?

What are the carrying costs of operating the plant?

What are the operational costs of the plant?

Were there change orders approved during construction and during the testing period of the plant?

What was the taxpayer’s cost of these orders?

Was there a business plan developed before the project contract was awarded?

How is the compost plant going to be self-sustainable with only half its 60,000 tonne capacity being utilized?

When will this plant become approved by the Ministry of Environment and start producing useable compost?

Why was it necessary to purchase 900 tonnes of wet waste from Hamilton to conduct a second trial run of the plant?

With tonnes of compost being created at full production, how is it going to be disposed?

What is the city going to do about the odours still emanating from the plant during the recent test?

Why ignore a Ministry of Environment (MOE) 2009 directive of allowing biodegradable plastic bags to be delivered to the new compost plant?

Why, instead of using the established system of collecting pre-sorted waste, contract to spend another $15 million on an untried collection system involving custom made trucks and bins?

Was this contract tendered?

Finally, why are Guelph’s waste management salary and benefits cost of $65.05 per capita so much higher compared to Waterloo Region’s per capita cost of $12.47 for performing the same work?

Tomorrow, Part Three with more questions about sewage treatment needing answers concerning your city.




Filed under Between the Lines

4 responses to “How Council turned Guelph into the lab-rat of sustainability

  1. Glen N. Tolhurst

    The ignoring of the MOE directive allowing the use of biodegradable green plastic bags for the compost waste stream is an all too typical triumph of council dogma over common sense. That dogmatic approach then sets the table for the $15 million 3 bin waste handling system with the pre-sorted recyclables being mixed together in the blue bin and then sorted at additional cost when it is dumped at the transfer station. The latest pronouncements that residents can buy biodegradable liners for the green bins is a tacit admission of failure to understand the process and the slapping of a band-aid on a festering sore. Little wonder that “waste management” is considered an oxymoron in Guelph.

    • Glen T. Tolhurst: An even more damning indictment of our waste management team is the cost to taxpayers. Guelph’s net cost per capita of waste management is $159.48. Compare that to the Regional of Waterloo’s per capita waste costs of $52.41. I guess one of the reasons is the contract to take wet waste from Waterloo Region and process it in our new (not ready for prime time) $34 million compost plant, paid by Guelph taxpayers.

  2. Jeff Burke

    Hi Gerry,
    May be a few more factors to consider to make it apples-to-apples… Guelph has 1 level of govt to W’loo’s 2, they might have an economy of scale (more than 2x the population)… I wish I had the numbers to support the anecdotes I have heard about how Guelph is losing $20/tonne cooking KW’s waste.

    • Jeff Burke: This is just one of my pet peeves. The waste management (use that term loosely) group operates like the CIA. They won’t reveal terms of the contracts entered with contractor Maple Reinders, and its subsidiary company, Aim Environmental that controls operation of the compost plant and sells capacity to other municipalities. We are working on this so stay tuned.

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