Citizens will hear the future of Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. & Guelph Hydro Wednesday night

By Gerry Barker

February 13, 2017

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Important note: The sale or merger of Guelph Hydro is scheduled for Wednesday night February 15, commencing at 6. p.m.  The fate of GMHI will also be discussed the same night. Sorry for the inconvenience. My advice still stands, please plan to attend the Wednesday meeting and make your voices heard. GB

On Wednesday, expect a different tactic employed regarding disposal of Gyelph Hydro.. A five-person committee, headed by CAO Derrick Thomson, is asking council to approve the sale of Guelph Hydro with the committee having the power to do so.

This time the method is different from 2008 when then Mayor Karen Farbridge was defeated in attempting to have council approve the merger with two other local distribution facilities in Hamilton and St. Catharines.

This is nothing but an end run to capture capital gain from the sale or merger, take your pick but someone is going to pay for it,

How can this committee, that has one member of council on it, Bob Bell, be given the power to dispose of the city’s most valuable, profit making asset?

How can the committee gain such power when the future of the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. misadventure into a $96 million disaster, hangs over the city like a vulture setting up his evening meal.

Ask yourself, where does the city, the one without a Chief Financial Officer for more than two years, plan to use this potential cash bonanza? Reduce the debt? Pay-off the $65 million hydro loan now sitting on the city books as an impaired asset. That’s because the borrower, GMHI, chaired by former mayor Farbridge, has no money to even pay the interest of the Hydro loan.

Apparently, the Wednesday agenda will discuss extending the future of GMHI to be targeted until mid year.

Are the potential Hydro sale/merger proceeds going toward the police HQ renovations? Or a new downtown Library? Or the South End recreation centre? Those items total capital spending of $140 million.

Is this prudent management of city assets? We live in a city that has higher operating and capital spending budgets than Cambridge and Kitchener, some 50 per cent higher. The disappearance of senior managers since 2014 has made matters worse. Our taxes are among the highest out of 445 municipalities in the Province.

Even more interesting, the Thomson committee debated for five months. They asked for public input and the response was overwhelming against the sale/merger of Guelph Hydro.

The committee also gave citizens little time to appear before council to comment on the committee recommendation to allow it to sell or merge Guelph Hydro. Is this fair?

This is nothing but a gigantic sham to shut down public protest and grab the value of Guelph Hydro estimated to be $150 million.

* If you want someone else to control your electricity costs, don’t show up Wednesday night.

* If you believe what this Thomson committee was told by outside consultants about the declining value of Guelph Hydro and the future of turning your home into a storage site costing thousands of dollars, then don’t show up Wednesday night.

* If you believe that your water bills are going to be reduced if Guelph Hydro is sold, don’t show up Wednesday night.

* If you believe that the proceeds gained by selling off Guelph Hydro will lower your taxes, don’t show up Wednesday night

* If you have faith that council will table the committee recommendation, don’t show up Wednesday night.

It’s time to call a halt to the sloppy and inefficient management that has been denuded of talent. Instead, it lurches on without reducing the city’s gargantuan spending policies that always are directed at the wrong goals at the expense of the necessary goals.

This is the citizen’s opportunity to protest this recommendation that lacks the credibility of public power.

If council passes the recommendation, say goodbye to public trust, power and the city’s most valuable asset.


In my opinion, Councillors Karl Wettstein and June Hofland should not participate in discussions regarding Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc or the proposed sale/merger of Guelph Hydro. Their role of serving on the GMHI board of directors for four years and participating in the $96 million dollar losses, linked to Guelph Hydro, of that city-owned corporation, creates a conflict of interest.


Filed under Between the Lines

15 responses to “Citizens will hear the future of Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. & Guelph Hydro Wednesday night

  1. Rena

    Amen, I trust and pray that someone/anyone is listening at City Hall. If not, please do not bother to put your name forward to run in the next election.

  2. Joe Black

    The water bill should be separate bill like other municipalities.

  3. Colleen

    This meeting is taking place on the 15th, not tonight.

  4. Guido

    who is on this committee?

    • Colleen

      The committee is comprised of:
      Derrick Thomoson, CAO, City of Guelph
      Pankaj Sardana, CEO, Guelph Hydro
      Bob Bell, Board Member, Guelph Hydro Electic Systems Inc
      Mark Goldberg, local business owner
      Richard Puccini, local business owner

    • Colleen: What was the process used to select the two business owners on the committee? Do they have specific knowledge of the operations of Guelph Hydro? Are they familiar with the role of Guelph Hydro in the operations of Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc.that had an operations loss of $28 million. Mr. Sardana and former CAO Ann Pappert signed the report that confirmed that loss and was presented to council last May 16.

  5. Colleen

    Hi Gerry, I dont know what the process was in selecting the two business owners for the committee or how much information they have received on the history of the Citys business dealings.

  6. Fred

    Yeah, later the council says it was the decision of the committee. We’re not responsible for screwing up your city.
    We need a forensic audit of the books of the city, and people need to be held accountable for fraud and corrupt practices. Amorosi was fired? Now we need to fire the council.

  7. Fred

    Council passed a bylaw making it illegal to feed the squirrels. Is that the city I want to live in Gerry? You can’t even feed the squirrels, yet council can waste millions of taxpayer’s dollars? What’s going on here?

  8. geo

    Why is this issue not in front of the committee of the whole, as in the entire Council sits on the committee? One Council member on this committee is not in our, Guelph citizens, best interests.

  9. geo

    My bad, this Bob Bell is not Guelph City Councillor Bob Bell so there are no Councillors on the committee.

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