A letter from Ken Spira, President of the Guelph Waste Coalition

Posted November 2, 2012

Edited and Reprinted with permission

Importing waste from the United States into Guelph is just wrong in so many ways.

The Material Recovery Facility (MRF) was built like the new Organic Waste Processing Facility (OWPF), is far too large for our needs, now and in the future.

The original multi-million dollar MRF was injected with additional millions of our tax dollars in the recent past to increase its efficiency.  This resulted in processing more material (recyclables) using fewer people and layoffs resulted. It is suspected that laid-off staff was likely given jobs at City Hall where they are handing them out like candy on Halloween.

To keep the MRF running for a full shift with the people who could not fit into City Hall, we have been importing waste from municipalities throughout Ontario. According to a Ministry of Environment (MOE) odour survey, the increased volume that the residences south of the facility thought were coming from the adjacent organics facility.

It is hard to distinguish exactly where the odour of burning taxpayer’s cash is coming from at the Dunlop Drive facility. However the MOE has spent plenty of time with the best equipment to track it down. According to its latest report, odours are coming from the MRF building as well as the transfer station. Both the MOE and neighbours are not happy about it.

The recommendation by the MOE is that we taxpayers install odour abatement systems in both the MRF and Transfer building. This is similar to the multi-million dollar bio-filter and stack in the new Organics facility that apparently is to control odours in the building.

A new private facility just opened in Cambridge and has taken a good chunk of Ontario’s recyclable waste that was going to our facility to contribute to our odour issue.

Even though we were likely charging less than our costs, we are no longer competitive with the private sector despite the millions sunk into the MRF facility. Being that city staff thinks we can’t be outdone by the private sector, we the taxpayers must dig a little deeper to install odour abatement systems and lower our price to attract waste feedstock away from the Cambridge facility. After all, we have to make it worth the trip for the Americans to drive past the Cambridge facility and bring us their smelly waste.

I don’t know about you but I think something else stinks at the Guelph Waste Innovation Centre other than the imported garbage. It may be the burning of our tax dollars!

Ken Spira




Filed under Between the Lines

6 responses to “A letter from Ken Spira, President of the Guelph Waste Coalition

  1. Glen N. Tolhurst

    If the people at city hall and in the waste management department think they are smart enough to compete with the private sector, why don’t they leave their protected jobs and move to the private sector? How long would they last when there is no bottomless pit of tax dollars to cover capital and operating costs?

    • Glen N. Tolhurst: The public sector has passed the private sector in terms of gold plated pensions, numerous perks and job security for life. With that kind of fundamental employment advantage, productivity disappears as is often the case. Todays public employees in Ontario have never had it better. Yet the Premier of the Province calls it quits primarily because he failed to impose a two-year job freeze. The most recent example of how the Guelph staff thinks is a recommendation to council of hiring a maintenance worker for cleaning the provincial courts. Salary – more than $79,000 a year. How does that compare to the pay for maintenance workers in Guelph’s private sector?

  2. Milton Burns

    In late 2010 the management of Guelph Waste Innovation Center submitted a budget for 2011. The budget called for revenues of $6.1 million and a budget deficit of $9.8 million The final audited figures showed revenues of $4.5 million , a 26% shortfall. and a final deficit of $17.4 million only $7.5 million more than projected. Obviously full cost accounting or forecasting is not a strong point of management.
    Under the circumstances can you imagine anybody, anywhere other than the City of Guelph Council giving them permission to enter any commercial contract.Particularily, since their operational and financial failures are legendary.

    Milton Burns

    • Milton Burns: You and I have been pointing out how the city administration has been mismanaging the taxpayer’s interests over the past five years. Your expertise auditing and analyzing the city’s official financial records is invaluable to citizens. The secrecy and backroom deals that are cut will affect Guelph for years to come. The question taxpayers may ask are you better off in the past four years? Instead, will you be better off in the next four years and the four years after that? That is the real question as our debt and pension obligations pile up pushing costs onto future generations.

  3. geo

    It’s true and Cambridge is a real example. Other Cities study Guelph’s waste disposal system to learn what not to do.
    I think innovation should be removed from the title Guelph Innovation Waste Centre.

    • geo: Gee, you want them to give up “innovation”? It’s one of their favourite buzz words. Others include strategic, robust, wellbeing, framework, bold, innovative (a spin off). The words were used in the Mayor’s speech to the Chamber of Commerce. If those Chamber members ran their businesses the way the city runs it’s business, there wouldn’t be a Guelph as we know it.

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