Monthly Archives: December 2013

You should always know the answer before asking the question

Posted December 6, 2013

A recent consultant’s poll on behalf of the waste management department said people do not want to pay more to divert waste from the landfill.

This was part of a campaign to review the solid waste management program and cast it in stone for the next 20 years. Back in the summer, the city held an open house at Cuttin Fields for residents to obtain information about the future direction of solid waste management. The room had a number of visual aids and members of the consultant’s staff were available to answer questions.

Interestingly, there were no members of the administration present including the Mayor or the Executive Director of Environment, Planning and Engineering, the senior staffer in charge of waste management.

The purpose of this exercise was to emphasize the direction of the 20-year solid waste plan. The primary goal is to divert waste from going into the landfill. Last year almost half of all waste collected in Guelph ended up in the landfill, more than 48,000 tonnes.

The mayor has often stated that the goal was to divert waste from the landfill. That was the excuse for spending $33 million on a compost processing facility that is currently operating at only two-thirds capacity.

Between September 12 and October 31, a consultant conducted a survey over the telephone of 400 randomly-selected households. Another option was to reply online. In all there were responses from 209 residents.

The results were surprising, including the high numbers supporting waste to energy instead of diverting to the landfill. Some 75 percent of the phone responders and 68 per cent of the online responders supported (dare I say it?) Incineration of waste to create heat and electricity.

Also responders were against spending more money to manage waste.

While this poll is a strong repudiation of composting wet waste it is not conclusive.

What it reveals is that The Farbridge administration’s determination to divert waste from the landfill by composting, has been rejected. Seven years ago when the Mayor and her cohorts took over the administration, they chose composting over incineration.

Today we have a composting facility that is an overbuilt, labour intensive white elephant that masquerades as a solution to divert waste from the landfill.

On top of that, millions have been spent developing the Dunlop Drive waste management centre including $2.3 million this year, on a second scale to weigh vehicles, plus other alleged improvements.

So, never ask a question if you don’t know the answer.

This is only one of a number of expensive mistakes that the Farbridge administration has foisted on the city and its residents. There is more to come.

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Filed under Between the Lines

This Riverpark development resurrection smacks of a conflict of interest

Posted December 2, 2013

Monday morning, Coun. Lise Burcher and Professor at the University of Guelph sent a memo announcing an open house that afternoon to be held in the Galleria of City Hall. The purpose was to show plans for the reclaiming of the river edge on the south side of Wellington Street currently occupied by a commercial plaza.

Why such short notice?  Did Coun. Burcher really want the public properly notified and informed?

This was a promotion by the administration about a year ago. At the time, carried a $16 million price tag. It called for demolishing the working retail plaza plus a stand-alone veterinary practice to create a Riverpark.

Here is another example of the administration’s munispeak. Warning: This sentence is almost unmanageable for the average intelligent person to comprehend, but please try it any way. It is classic munispeak as practised by members of the city administration:

“Harnessing the exquisitely crafted foundation of the Downtown Secondary Plan (take a breath) and the tremendous excitement generated by the recent and future leveraging of private sector contributions in the “lowertown area” south of Market Square, (ye gads a comma) my co-instructor Nadia Amoroso and I engaged our graduating Bachelor of Landscape Architecture students over the semester in the design of the open space quadrant south of Wellington Street (and bounded by Gordon Street on the west and Windham Street of the East).”

Exquisitely crafted? Does Professor Burcher need an editor with common sense?

The bothersome point is the councillor is acting as a planner and facilitator in her role as a university professor. When elected officials mix their vocation with their responsibilities to the taxpayers, there exists a conflict of interest. Further, she uses students in her courses to develop a plan without the approval or consent of the members of council. But the city ends up paying for the open house. Finally, if and when this project comes forward for a vote in council, how does Coun. Burcher cast her ballot?

She stated that the student exercise involved communication with a cross section of community stakeholders. Did that group include the owners of the plaza and veterinary clinic and the city staff, including the Chief Financial Officer? Of the community contributors to this student exercise, none were identified except one, George Dark, partner in Urban Strategies. This is the consultant hired to develop the urban design framework for downtown Guelph.

Who knew the city had hired a consultant firm to develop the urban design for downtown?

It’s great that architectural students conducted this assignment but it is another matter to pass this off as an accomplishment that will allegedly embellish the lowertown part of downtown. It’s putting the cart before the horse.

Of all people, Coun. Burcher should realize that there is no funding for this project. She is a member of council that has spent capital on many projects to the extent there is little left on the table.

Surely she must be aware of the lack of funding for a new downtown Library. The last estimate for that project was $63 million and it will attract 100 times the potential number of citizens to the Riverpark project. And the library will operate all year for all the people.

Coun. Burcher has sat on council for the past seven years when the new downtown library project kept getting shoved off the table. Oh! Council spent $5 million to demolish three properties on Wyndham Street as part of its new library planning. It created 20 new parking spaces. Gee, that’s only $250,000 a parking space.

Does that not resonate in the councillor’s mind? Particularly when she was elected in 2006, the Mayor promised a new downtown library would be built.

The Riverpark project insiders, but not the taxpaying public, will enjoy this open house.

And the administration wonders why citizens are upset at the way their city is being run.



Filed under Between the Lines