Get ready for the dog and pony show at Cutten Fields

Posted September 10, 2013

The city waste management people are holding a public information soiree at the Cutten Fields country club, Thursday Sept. 12, to show off their 20-year waste management strategy.

And guelphspeaks wouldn’t miss it for the world.

This proposal, and let’s hope that’s only what it is, or has it already been cooked in the backrooms of power? It seems odd that this particular time (5 to 8 p.m.) was chosen to expose the details to the public. For many people, it’s an inconvenient time particularly for parents with children.

It gets even creepier when you consider the city’s waste management’s track record since 2008 when the concept of diverting waste from the landfill had its beginning.

The only evidence of how this system works diverting waste from the landfill was revealed in a consultant’s report earlier this year. As it turns out the city is still shipping tonnes of unsorted and material not suitable for use in the new, $33 million composting facility.

In 2012 the first problem was the plant only processed some 17,000 tonnes of usable wet stuff to be turned into compost. The tonnage from the City of Guelph fell short of its predicted amount. The 20,000 tonnes contracted to come from the Region of Waterloo only provided 9,100 tonnes. Nevertheless, the Region had to pay the full amount. It was reported that it was costing the Region $1.6 million a year for wet waste not delivered to Guelph’s new organic facility.

In the wake of that revelation, the waste management leaders announced they would seek to fill the tonnage gap selling it to other providers. Now if the Regional of Waterloo has contracted to supply 20,000 tonnes, two thirds of the plant’s current capacity, they own that tonnage regardless of whether it was delivered or not.

That apparently did not deter the eager beavers at waste management central. Here’s some free legal advice: Shut up! If not, beware of the deadly legal argument that could be made if the matter goes to court known as “unjustified enrichment.” There is plenty of precedence to strengthen the argument that you cannot sell something for which you have already contracted.

So there have been gawd-awful miscalculations in striving to divert waste from the landfill.

They built a facility that has the potential of processing six times the wet waste produced in the City of Guelph.

Built with tax dollars, the plant took a year and a half to come into production due to construction and design flaws.

Then another $15 million was spent to supply three carts to every household plus automated trucks to dump the carts on collection day.

It was never explained why the trucks take almost twice the amount of time to execute the robotic maneuver than the crews picking up the sorted plastic bags that have served the community for more than ten years.

But it gets better. Now there are 6,400 condominiums in the city, both horizontal and vertical in which the city refuses to collect their waste. So, unsorted, off it goes to the landfill.

This is landfill diversion?

The bottom line: This was all done in secret. In 2008, the Farbridge controlled council passed the necessary regulations that created this garbage nightmare.

The public has no knowledge of the costs associated with the operation of the plant and collection systems; details of the contracts made with contractor Maple Reinders and subsidiary companies; and what are we getting for the sale of compost and recyclables?

Finally, do we really want this $52 million debacle to turn into a 20-year operational and financial disaster?

Doing the rough math it is conceivable that such a plan could cost upwards of $200 million in waste management costs in its 20-year lifetime.

It brings to mind the great line in the movie Jerry McGuire: “Follow the money.”

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4 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

4 responses to “Get ready for the dog and pony show at Cutten Fields

  1. Jerry

    Hi Gerry
    I just read a article in todays mercury saying that the city of guelph has
    a whole lot of shorfalls on the budget.Now the mayor/councillors want the
    city staff to tighten the belts for next year budget.What a joke?.
    Apparently there is a shortfall in the garbage budget…surprise surprise.
    May be if they found a way to collect the garbage from the condo owners
    it would solve either part or all of the shortfall.Opps what am i saying.
    That makes way to much sense for this city.
    Oh for the Norm Jary days of governance.

    • Jerry: Nothing surprises me about this administration anymore. I have been talking on the blog about the financial mess the waste management department has inflicted on the taxpayers. How Janet Laird, head of the department, can sleep at night is a mystery. Tomorrow night (Thursday) the same bunch are going to reveal their 20-year waste management program at Cutten Fields to the unsuspecting public. If they can’t get the past five years of waste management right, how do the expect the taxpayers to stand still for more of the same? This will be a major issue in the 2014 civic election. Stay tuned, there is more bafflegab and financial screw-ups to come.

  2. geo

    Gerry
    Is it true?
    Both of the taxpayer subsidized downtown condos, one being built and one to follow, will not have their garbage picked up by the city?
    How do you spell hypocrisy?

    • Geo: It’s spelled S.T.U.P.I.D. Some 6,400 condo owners have been ripped off by the city for more than 10 years. They pay for garbage collection through their property taxes but the city refuses to pick the stuff up. So they must hire private contractors to remove their waste. Question: Did the waste management staff issue Requests For Proposal (RFP) before they spent $15 million on the carts? All these contracts entered into by the city and private enterprises without public disclosure is troubling. More than $50 million has already been spent in taxpayer’s capital to private enterprises. That’s an incubator for kick-backs. The city should reveal the terms and conditions of those contracts to supply waste management services. The air must be cleared before trying to sell a 20-year waste management plan to the paying public.

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