Posted July 11, 2013
For the last six days the local daily has been producing stories covering the City of Guelph’s six-year waste management experience. The series is described by gueelphspeaks as a schmooze to present the exclusive city’s views of its waste management policies. Unfortunately, the pieces lack any counter views from those who disagree with city policies.
The duty of any responsible newspaper is to present both sides of the story when reporting the news. So far this schmooze series has failed on all counts and has eclipsed as a schlimazel of misguided facts and self-serving information.
In the Wednesday schmoozie, the reporter travelled to Brampton to investigate the city’s lone waste incineration plant that produces steam from garbage to a nearby paper plant. It generates nine megawatts of power, most of which goes to the paper plant. The balance is sent to the Hydro grid.
The article quotes the plant manager saying the construction is capital intensive. Translation: There is a lot of up-front capital required. He was not quoted how much, but if the cost of our organics processing facility is any example, the cost will be big-time.
The Mayor says the waste management plan is currently being updated and she has expressed interest in burning garbage destined for the landfill to create energy and heat.
Last year 54,000 tonnes of Guelph’s waste went to the landfill. In contrast the Brampton plant incinerated 175,000 tonnes. Do you get the feeling Guelph is not ready for prime time waste management?
That wasn’t the Farbridge tune played in 2007 when her council refused any proposal to incinerate waste to generate power. Instead, they spent $52 million on the compost plant and collection system.
So here’s the rub. The city won’t tell us how much the organics facility costs to operate. It also refuses to tell us how much the finished compost is sold or to whom. The facility operator, Wellington Organix, a subsidiary company of the original contractor Maple Reinders, deems all this information proprietary. Read that, not for public consumption.
In 2007, newly re-elected Mayor Karen Farbridge, decided to pursue the failure of the compost plant built in her first term as Mayor, and her council approved a new plant costing $33 million. This figure is now like an amoeba it keeps changing almost daily, depending on whom you talk to.
That first experiment with composting cost the city a $40,000 fine and the manager was fired. Apparently the building was disintegrating and causing sickening odours wafting into the neighbourhood.
That didn’t deter the Mayor. Today, six years later, taxpayers are stuck with a plant in which they financed but have no knowledge of the operation or its costs and/or benefits to the taxpayers.
It was built to accommodate wet waste streaming from other municipalities.
And this is only the beginning.
The city processed 105,915 tonnes of garbage in 2012. More that half of it went to the landfill. Some of the more sensitive material such as medical waste went to an incinerator in Niagara Falls, New York.
Just to refresh your memory, in 2006, the Kate Quarrie administration contracted to send all garbage to an incineration facility in New York State. The cost was $85 dollars (US) a tonne.
Even if the city had done nothing but extend that contract, today we would have available capital totaling more than $50 million to spend on a new downtown library and south end recreation centre.
We would have lower debt costs, lower taxes and facilities that serve the people of the city.
There would be zero environmental issues. Our city would be cleaner that a hound’s tooth.
Most of all, we would blunt the obsession of this administration to inflict a waste system that is overbuilt, overpriced and transparency is denied.
And now they are working on a 25-year waste management plan?
Please sir, more porridge.