More short takes on the Guelph politic

Posted March 13, 2013

Fiction of the water rates increase

The need for water in the city goes without saying. The disposal of wastewater is the most expensive service supplied by the waterworks department. Yet, the rates are pushed up despite the reduction in water usage throughout the city. The city says the higher costs of energy, equipment repair and replacement are the causes. And, Ta Dah! Another cause is the increasing costs of existing as well as new employees “ to meet the needs of our growing community”. Since the city has grown by only 5.8 per cent in the past six years, why are the rates going up, again? Let’s see, water demand decreases but rates keep going up?

Is spending tax dollars on community groups really worth it?

Recently, this council approved spending $225,000 in support of 57 community groups. The original request for 2013 was $540,000 from 71 community groups. Adjudication of the requests was conducted by a review team composed of citizens (not identified) and staff. It was all part of a new community investment strategy according to Barbara Powell, general manager of community engagement and social services. Apparently the city dishes out money without sound follow up to see how the money is spent. This year, events include the Jazz Festival ($15,000), Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival ($11,000), Hillside ($15,000) and the all-time favourite, the Fairy Fest ($5,000), receive civic largess.

Guelph has more per capita Ontario Municipal Board cases than its peers

Since November 8, 2002, figures show that Guelph has 17 OMB cases to face, all involving disputes with the city. While the Region of Waterloo has double the number of cases in the past ten years, its population is 553,300 versus 121,000 for Guelph. On a 4.6 to 1 ratio, Guelph has open cases of 17 compared to Waterloo Regions’ 25 cases. On a per capita basis, Guelph’s outstanding cases are 276 per cent above the ratio of our neighbours. The question remains, why? Our council cannot get along with the county and apparently that extends to dealing with developers. A more recent case comes to mind regarding building two towers of residences for students as Stone Road and Gordon Street. That’s now in the hands of the OMB because the city and the university objected to the plans. Has Guelph earned the reputation of either you go along or you won’t get along?

Standing up to Loblaws

When Loblaws approached the city to remodel its Eramosa store, did anyone on the staff think they finally had some leverage? It is now some nine years since city council approved establishing commercial nodes in the four points of the compass. This included the east-end of the city where there has been substantial residential development. Alas no convenient major grocery store is to be seen. Loblaws owns an attractive piece of property on Watson Road but refuses to build a store. Instead the giant grocery chain wants to take over the old Zellars and enlarge its existing store. That’s not very convenient for those living in the east end. But who said anything about being responsible and fair?

Waste pick-up a definite Whoops!

When an enterprising resident photographed the waste pick-up crew dump organic waste in the back of the truck instead of the designated collection bin, It was met with a ”so what?” comment by senior staff. An editorial in the daily newspaper pointed out the obvious. How does the waste management department continue to make mistakes when it forces the public to pre-sort its garbage with the expectation that it will be collected in accordance with system requirements? Didn’t we just pay some $37 million to convert organic waste into compost plus another $15 million to pick up our waste and dispose of it in the correct sites? Let’s see, we spend $52 million for a system that is depended on guys who don’t know which bin to put it in. Management palming it off as “and error in judgment” is whistling past the graveyard.


Filed under Between the Lines

4 responses to “More short takes on the Guelph politic

  1. Glen N. Tolhurst

    That the rates for water continue to spiral despite less usage is a classic case of not having control of costs. By adding staff, the fixed cost of the department is raised in spite of less usage revenue coming in, so the brain trust hikes the fixed costs instead of managing the variable costs. Simply brilliant, unless of course you are a taxpayer!
    It has been said that part of the $15 Million justification for new trucks with robot arms to pickup the new waste bins is to reduce the annual workers compensation claims from $450,000. Now that 1/3 of the city is using the new bins and trucks, let’s see if there is a $150,000 reduction in compensation claims in the first year. So, the boffins have spent $15 million to overcome a work place injury compensation cost of $450,000 instead of instituting workplace safety and training to reduce injuries. Mind boggling, to say the least!!

  2. joseph paul phelan

    Nothing that takes place at City Hall surprises me any more…what would surprise me is a responsible decision.

  3. David Birtwistle

    Gerry: a gift to you- “largesse”

  4. Jerry

    HI Gerry
    Just talking to a neighbour of mine that works for the city at the new waste
    facility.In fact he is a forman there and he was telling me that since the
    waste facility opened up in Cambridge the amount of waste going to Guelph
    has dropped.
    He even mentioned that there might be layoffs at the plant because of this.
    He also said that they hire people to work out there on 3 month contracts,
    then they get laid off for 2 weeks and then brought back to work for another
    3 months.(no benefits,no security).He knows of people working out there
    for 2 years like this.
    We both laughed about it and in fact he said he is just bidding his time to
    retirement.(2 years to go)for him full benefits,big retirement check.
    Average “joe”3 month contract,no benefits,can;t but nothing because he/she never knows if they will be called back.Still has to pay union dues
    even thou he will never see full time.

    Sounds like the same benefit councillors got but they have the first 2 months off,they work 4 month’s,then they get 2 months off again,then they
    work 4 month;s.Big difference is they get full benefits,full retirement
    checks(severence pay)They get paid even thou they are off 4 month’s.

    So i am wandering what the difference is….both work for the same city.
    Same union.?

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