By Gerry Barker
June 14, 2018
In one of the most convoluted and incomprehensible stories ever carried in Guelph Today, the Online news source, even baffled councillors, including June Hofland, who questioned the “high level language” that was used when plain English was needed to help citizens understand the project.
Well, I’m one who remains baffled. The piece displayed a picture of Mayor Guthrie posed in front of a large chart that resembled a new board game.
The report described the City bid, joined by County Wellington that would see the area develop “a Circular Food Economy to increase access to affordable, nutritional food.”
This is beginning to sound like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
At its planning meeting Last Monday, council voted unanimously to approve a staff recommendation to fund this turkey by taking $245,000 from the city’s Efficiency, Innovation and Opportunity Reserve fund.
This is starting to resemble a social engineering program from the former administration headed by Karen Farbridge. I think most people now understand the high cost of that administration’s green schemes that cost citizens millions. Many of which failed.
But hold on! Following the original story, the city published a press release that puts a new angle on the “circular food economy” project that confuses the situation even further.
This release says that Guelph Wellington has partnered with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, headquartered in the United Kingdom. The Foundation selected the city and county to collaborate in its “Cities and the Circular Economy for Food initiative.”
Guelph’s Chief Administrative Officer, Derrick Thomson stated: “To be selected as a focus city for this initiative is a huge honour and a testament to Guelph’s innovative spirit and the collaborative relationship of the City and County.
“We’re proud of the opportunity to represent Canada and help carve a path for other cities interested in a circular food economy.””
Hmmm. Is that the same opportunity that’s costing us $245,000 to participate in the Federal Government’s contest about, here we go again, the circular economy initiative? You remember the money is to be taken from the city’s Efficiency, Innovation and Opportunity Reserve fund.
That’s the one where Guelph Wellington could win $10 million as the winner of a lottery to participate, we presume, in developing the “Circular Economy for Food initiative.
Are we a third world country with a need to feed the people?”
Okay everybody, have you figured out why the staff would make such a recommendation to spend $245,000 on this wonky scheme? Besides, what does Guelph get out of it?
Also, where does County Wellington fit into this? How much is our partner putting up to participate? The more we learn makes us believe the odds resemble a civic Ponzi scheme with high risk and no guarantee of a return.
Except of course, such intangibles as honour, pride and innovation spirit.
Even if council approves the bid spending, the county will be the chief beneficiary because that’s where the circular economy action could occur.”
Step right up! Give us $245,000 and you might win a $10 million prize from your Federal government.
Did I mention that there are eight other municipalities in the running for this underwriting of a circular food economy plan?
Which is it?
Now that Guelph Wellington has made the semi-finals because there were originally 100 applications, we learn that the Federal Government has “committed” $250,000 to help prepare the proposal because additional research and resources are needed to complete the entry.
Later in the story we find the Feds “awarded” $250,000 to the city to develop its bid.
I’m confused, why do we need to take $245,000 from a reserve fund to enter the lottery?
Councillor June Hofland has a point. Both these releases obfuscates the purpose of spending this money in competition with eight other cities in the under 500,000-population category.
I don’t know about you but this looks like another pet project cementing Mr. Future, Cam Guthrie’s march to be a legend before his time.
He led the charge to give Guelph Hydro away for a pittance in return from the acquirer, Alectra Utilities. That so-called merger has yet to be approved by the Ontario Energy Board if one still exists under new management at Queen’s Park.
The discouraging aspect of this stupidity lies right with Mayor Guthrie and a compliant council that reflects the famous words of Sgt. Schultz in Hogan’s Heroes: “I see nothing, I know nothing, I tell nothing.”
It was funny back then, but it’s not funny now.
It demonstrates that spending $245,000 on the slim chance of receiving a $10 million prize with strings attached is a wasteful misuse of public money.
The important lesson taken here is how we must elect councillors with experience, who control the agenda and not the staff, and introduce centrist reforms that reflect the needs and interests of all citizens.