Are you ready for a 20-year solid waste management plan?

Posted September 4, 2013

It is interesting to reflect on the lengths that the Farbridge administration will go toward conning the public with phoney information communicated in a self-serving manner.

Case in point is the announcement that the city is conducting a public forum to explain the new Solid Waste Management Master Plan (SWMMP) Thursday, September 12 at the Cutten Fields. Game time is 5 pm running to 8 pm.

Some wags around town call it the “SWAMP” plan.

Since the original SWAMP plan was announced in 2008 by the Farbridge administration, more than $50 million has been spent on waste management. The money went into a $33 million organic waste facility to turn wet waste into useable compost, thus diverting it from the landfill. It was constructed to initially process 30,000 tonnes of wet waste.

At that rate, a 20-year SWAMP plan could cost four times just in capital costs alone or another $200 million. Make sense to you?

But in the 18 months of full operation, the organic facility wet waste tonnage has not materialized. In 2012, it managed to process just over half of the plant’s capacity. That drove up the operating costs. An important cost the city refuses to reveal, probably for good reason.

The city also won’t tell how much was paid for the 3,000-plus tonnes of finished compost produced in 2012 claiming the information was proprietary.

And all this time our city fathers were bragging about how earnest they were about transparency of open government. So concerned, council approved spending $100,000 to a Toronto-based consultant to prepare an “ open government plan” for the city. Huh?

The second major development in the first SWAMP plan came when the city approved spending $15 million on a semi-automated garbage collection system using three sizes of plastic bins.

After the programmed installation commenced, it became known that more than 6,400 households would not been served by this new system. In fact the city has steadfastly refused to collect waste from these households, mostly condo units, for at least ten years. Yet the city keeps approving condos without regard of waste management and collection.

Instead, condo taxpayers must pay a private contractor to remove their garbage and it is sent unsorted to the landfill site. Also they must pay for waste removal through their municipal taxes even though they do not receive the service.

Now that’s what I call planning!

The city’s waste management’s mantra is to divert waste from the landfill and process it in the Dunlop Street waste management facility that composts, recycles and still sends tons to the landfill some 180 kms away.

With this colossal waste of money to overbuild the present facilities and ignore other ways to divert and use waste to supply heat and power to the community, you are invited to hear details of a 20-year solid waste management plan.

And the notice for this conclave is just eight days away.

Here’s what should have happened.

Every taxpayer should have been sent a complete copy of the 20-year proposal with a summary prior to the meeting. No amount of telephone surveys, expert facilitators can possibly inform the public of such a massive, long-term proposal on such short notice.

But that’s the way they do things in our city and it must stop. Paying lip service to providing the public with sketchy details is their way of excusing their dictatorial management of important developments.

While I abhor civil disobedience, this is a time for citizens to show up and demand answers. And that should include a frank discussion about the status of the first SWAMP, how much it has really cost

Also ask why Guelph households are paying $465.97 for waste management that is almost twice what neighboring municipalities are paying.

Wonder if the Mayor will show up?

Note: If you are interested in learning more about how your city operates, sign up for membership in GrassRoots Guelph and join the crusade for change. Send your Name, Address, email address and telephone numbers to: It will be forwarded to the GRG membership team and kept in a secure database. You will receive regular member’s notices and GRG NOW newsletter.



Filed under Between the Lines

4 responses to “Are you ready for a 20-year solid waste management plan?

  1. KS

    Very well said. You should also note that this information is not being shared with the Guelph Waste Resource Innovation Center’s Public Liaison Committee or the Guelph Waste Management Coalition that could both share some valuable information on the past blunders at the facility.

    • KS: After what we have endured in the past six and a half years is it any wonder that they truly believe they are bullet proof and can fool the stakeholders? This bunch can’t handle the truth (apologies to Jack Nicholson). But they sure can hide it. Now they want to inflict a 20-year plan of handling solid waste on the taxpayers. None of them will be around. and How can any organization ever create a 20-year plan and deny that it won’t meet its targets or cost a needless ton of money. I say go to the meeting Next Thursday night, September 12 at 5 pm, at Cutten Fields and bring a box lunch to hear the greatest song and dance that this administration has suggested. When Jerry Seinfeld was asked what his TV show show was all about, he replied: “It’s a show about nothing.” Touche!

  2. Glen N. Tolhurst

    As it now stands, the only thing to look forward to is 20 years of paying for waste mismanagement which will be greeted with about as much enthusiasm as a visit to a proctologist, though the effect will be the same.
    Curious timing of the “gathering”: 5 pm on a Thursday so nothing will make it into the newspapers on Friday permitting the mayor, councilors, and waste “magnates” to have until Monday to hide from anticipated flak. Quite the practice of transparency!

    • Glen N. Tolhurst: Let’s all go to the solid waste management meeting and bring a box lunch to tied us over when the plan is rolled out. Questions: Can you think of any organization that tells its shareholders that this is a 20-year plan? Can you think of any board of directors would ever approve of such a preposterous idea? Is this not a legacy move to honour the sad sack record of an administration? One that is bereft of common sense, cannot read a spread sheet and underestimates the taxpayers who are able to utilize both? You’re right about the timing. It had to be Thursday because they all take off for the weekend Friday afternoon.

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