What did we get for $37 million?

Posted March 28, 2013

The detailed annual report of the 2012 Organic Waste Processing Facility (OWPF) reveals the actual performance of the operation.

In all it received 17,338 tonnes of which 87 per cent or 15,048 tonnes was mixed organic materials. Some 719 tonnes were composed of brush, leaves and yard waste. Chief source of this feedstock was the City of Guelph and the Region of Waterloo. The report does not breakout the amounts from each supplier.

The record shows that Guelph’s contribution is estimated to be 10,000 tones per year while its agent, Aim Environmental, has contracted with the Region of Waterloo to supply 20,000 tonnes.

On the surface, it would appear there were operational difficulties that prevented reaching the tonnage estimates in 2012.

The 60 page report, prepared by Markham-based consultant Aecon, said the organic facility produced 3,414 tonnes of finished compost. That represented 19.69 per cent of all wet waste treated at the plant.

That composted material was shipped to a farmer (not named) in Atwood, Ontario.

Another 257 tonnes were shipped to the St. Thomas landfill being unsuitable feedstock for plant operations.

The $37 million OWPF is only part of the waste handling centre that includes the main transfer station, plus recycling and sorting of waste for shipment.

The centre received and processed 105,915 tonnes in 2012

That breaks down as follows:

17,338 tonnes or 16 per cent from the OWPF
40,037 tonnes or 38 per cent recyclables, dry materials
8,163 tonnes or 8 percent of brush, leaves and yard waste
40,377 tonnes or 38 per cent processing mixed solid waste, medical waste and contaminated soil

Where the stuff went.

Of the grand total, 48,715 tonnes were shipped to the St. Thomas landfill. Another 105 tonnes were shipped to a Niagara Falls, NY waste facility.

It’s time to question the financials.

In the entire report, that covered a myriad of engineering and environmental data, there was no reference to operating costs of the facility and the adjacent waste management operations. Obviously it was not Aecon’s mandate to analyze the finances.

For example, how much is it costing, per tonne, to keep the OWPF operating? Is there an operational deficit or profit?

What is the Atwood farmer paying for all that compost? And why him?

Was that contract to sell compost tendered? Did facility operator Aim Environmental arrange the sale? Was there a commission paid?

How efficient is the recycling operation in terms of cost and revenue per tonne?

How much does the city have to pay to outside processing facilities to receive almost half of the entire 105,015 tonnes shipped in 2012 to the St. Thomas landfill that is owned by the City of Toronto?

How much is it costing the city to have Aim Environmental manage the OWPF and have the right to sell capacity of the taxpayer-funded plant?

How was the OWPF financed? What are the terms, including term of the loans and interest rates? What are the future projections of costs and revenues of this facility?

Was there ever a business plan developed before the project was undertaken? And if there was, does the facility meet production targets and costs?

Why not share this with the taxpayers? What is the taxpayers’ liability in this multi-million dollar gamble?

The Region of Waterloo contracted to ship 20,000 tonnes to the OWPF but how short were they in 2012?

The irony of this is that the original idea of composting wet waste was created by the former Farbridge administration in 2000. It blew up during the Kate Quarrie administration and was shut down with a major rebuke from the province and the manager was fired.

Along comes Ms. Farbridge re-elected and like Lazarus rising from the dead, sets this grandiose scheme in motion.

Yikes! $52 million later we still don’t know the details of this environmental monument that does not appear to be functioning as predicted.


Filed under Between the Lines

3 responses to “What did we get for $37 million?

  1. jpphelan55@hotmail.com

    Speaking of organic waste….the mayor and her henchmen fall into this category…..

  2. Jerry

    Should not the documents be included in the freedom of speech part of
    the law and the residents have access too?

  3. Glen N. Tolhurst

    With apologies to William Shakespeare – Methinks there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark, er Guelph!

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