CITY VIEW – Why the city won’t reveal the costs of the organics plant

Posted July 10, 2013

The waste management schmooze series in the local daily drones on and quickly becomes all hat and no horse for readers and taxpayers.

The second schmoozie of the series of six extols the virtuous role the City of Guelph has played in the world of turning wet waste into an organic wonderland. The writer quoted Susan Antler, executive director of the Compost Council of Canada, that “Guelph deserves the right to blow its organics horn”.

Let’s examine the facts.

A council authorized the plant with little public input in 2008. Five years later, it is finally fully operational, or so they say.

The waste management states the cost of the plant is now set at $31.5 million. Question: What happened to the cost figure of $34 million that was reported for months? Does that include cost of the six-month break-in period? Does it include the repairs that had to be made to eliminate odours escaping into the neighbourhood?

The waste management refuses to reveal the cost of operation, Or the terms of the contract made with chief contractor Maple Reinders, its subsidiary companies, Aim Environmental and Wellington Organix, that is contracted to run the facility.

Nor does the report enlighten us as to why management refuses to reveal the sales of the finished compost and the prices paid on the grounds that it is “proprietary”. That means that information belongs to Maple Reinders and associated companies.

So, on the one hand in the report, the city is praised for being a pioneer in major municipal organic processing. On the other hand, it clams up saying sales information is “proprietary”.

Just so we get this straight, the taxpayers of Guelph financed the plant and its operation. But apparently there is a working partnership with Maple Reinders, the terms of which have never been revealed to the stakeholders who put up the money. This partnership protects Maple Reinders proprietary interests but not the people, who council dragooned into a deal with little knowledge or long-term understanding of the risk and consequences.

In some circles, that would be described as a high stakes gamble.

Despite this lack of transparency on the part of our elected officials, the project spawned another $15 million purchase of bins and special trucks to pick up our pre-sorted waste. Again, no public discussion, it just happened.

Then came the capper. The organics plant was overbuilt. Its first stage capacity is 30,000 tonnes annually. But Guelph only generates 10,000 tonnes. The operators of the plant negotiated with the Region of Waterloo to take 20,000 tonnes a year. Now the city is saying it intends to sell capacity, that is contracted to Waterloo, to other clients.

Question: The Region of Waterloo signed a ten-year, binding contract to supply 20,000 tonnes a year at $117 a tonne with those people running the Guelph organics plant. Why would the Region agree to such a preposterous proposal?

Once again the Guelph taxpayer is left out of the loop on this project but still left holding the $50 million bag.

Okay, you can stop blowing your horn now.

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1 Comment

Filed under Between the Lines

One response to “CITY VIEW – Why the city won’t reveal the costs of the organics plant

  1. Venture Guelph Publications

    Hey Gerry–BUT the good news is Laidlaw is not running again. Nice ‘D’ our city got from the Canadian Federation of Municipalities too… “We are all about community in everything we do…” Mike Baker – Owner/Publisher Business Venture\Activity & Events Guide\Citywide Christmas Guide Project Management ~ Real Estate Update Web: ventureguelph.ca Email: venture@golden.net Phone: 519.824.1595 Fax:226.326.0495

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