Citizens are flying blind on the costs of our waste management white elephant

Posted January 26, 2014

The following article was originally posted June 25, 2013. The questions remain unanswered by Mayor Farbridge’s administration despite many attempts to obtain the answers. This has occurred for good reasons, as the administration is too embarrassed to allow the truth to be told.

From the get-go, this was a failed project that lacked a competent business plan, created by a naive management team and powered by a small group of elected ideologues. They were determined to use city money to meet their unrealistic goals to divert waste from the landfill.

The recent announcement of Guelph winning an award for diverting waste from the landfill from the largely unknown Waste Diversion Ontario, rings hollow particularly when the books are cooked. Guelphspeaks published the real 2012 waste processing numbers earlier in 2013. The source was Aceon, the Markham based consulting firm, hired to report of the efficiency of the Waste Innovative Resource Centre (WIRC).

If this $53 million exercise was to divert waste from the landfill, it is an expensive and colossal failure.

Why did the city build a plant to process its wet waste that is triple the capacity of the needs of the municipality? Particularly when the city refuses to collect waste from 6,400 condominium households that represent 13.6 per cent of total households in the city. Further, those residents must pay $1,433,600 to the city for NOT collecting its garbage. Instead, they pay private contractors to remove their garbage that winds up, unprocessed, in the landfill.

Wonder if WDO knew about this?

Out of 105,000 tonnes processed in 2012 at the WIRC site on Dunlop Drive, some 48,000 tonnes were sent to the landfill. That means that the WRIC processed 57,000 tonnes diverted from the landfill or 54.28 per cent, not 67.72 per cent as claimed by WDO.

But that 105,000 tonnes included recyclables from a number of sources, wet waste from the Region of Waterloo, and non-compostable wet waste feedstock.

Based on the WDO prize winning figure of 67.72 per cent diversion, that would mean the city is claiming that the WIRC diverted 71,106 tonnes from the landfill. According to the city’s own consultants, that didn’t happen.  It was only 57,000 tonnes.

Maybe they should give the trophy back.

Questions:

1.  Why did general contractor Maple Reinders tell an Ottawa construction convention that the Guelph waste management facility cost $28 million? The city claims it cost $31.6 million. That has increased again to $34 million.

2.  Why the $6 million difference? Where did the money go?

3.  What are the details of the operating contracts between the city (owner of OWPF) and Maple Reinders and its subsidiary companies, Aim Environmental (AE), Wellington Organix (WO)?

4.  What is the legal relationship between the city and the Maple Reinders companies?

5.  What are the details of financing the OWPF?

6.  Does the city pay all debt servicing, operational and maintenance costs?

7.  Does AE/WO have exclusive rights to operate the OWPF plus sales of composted material?

8.  If so, what are the terms of the contract, length of agreement, commissions, loss provision, depreciation, and operational subsidies?

9.  What are the commissions paid to AE/WO on the sale of OWPF capacity?

10.  Why is the Region of Waterloo failing to meet its contract to deliver 20,000 tonnes of feedstock to the OWPF?

11. Was the Region’s 9,100 tonnes of wet waste contribution calculated in the performance of the Guelph OWPF for 2012? Was this tonnage part of winning the waste diversion award?

12.  Is the Region still paying for the 20,000 tonnes regardless of whether they meet the contract to deliver?

13.  Why is the city now offering to sell the unused Region of Waterloo to other communities?

14.  Who pays for removal of rejected feedstock to the OWPF?

15.  What are the operating costs per processed tonne of the OWPF?

16.  What are the full operating costs of the OWPF including overhead, debt charges, commissions, bonuses, salaries and benefits, insurance, consultants, maintenance, modifications legal and accounting, engineering?

17.  What is the 2013 estimated revenue from OWPF operations?

18.  What was the profit (loss) position of the OWPF in 2012 and 2013?

19.  What did the “Arkona Farmer” pay for the 3,400 tonnes of compost produced by OWPF in 2012?

20.  Did AE/WO negotiate that sale? Was there a commission paid for that transaction?

21.  Was the source of the submission to WDO prepared by city staff or an independent body?

*            *            *            *

If the city lacks the capacity to feed wet waste into its organic composting plant, now or in the future, taxpayers must ask: “What were they thinking?”

Too late, we’re stuck with this gigantic white elephant that citizens will be paying for over the next 20 years.

And it was created by a few elected officials under the leadership of Mayor Karen Farbridge, who put personal environmental views ahead of the city’s ability to process waste from all homes and pay for it.

 

 

 

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3 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

3 responses to “Citizens are flying blind on the costs of our waste management white elephant

  1. joe Black

    Lining their pockets??

    • joe Black: Until the administration reveals the details of the operation of the Waste Innovative Resource Centre, including contracts, operational costs and debt incurred, to name a few of the details, this multi-milliom dollar monument will be a question of who paid what and who got what?

  2. DAVID BIRTWISTLE

    Who was on the WDO selection committee and were any of those folks former employees of the City of GUELPH;what source data was used in the WDO’s calculations and how was such data collected?Where can the “public” access the aforementioned information?
    david.birtwistle@sympatico.ca

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