Once again, the lack of business experience combined with numeric illiteracy amongst members of council and the administration led to the building of a recycling centre (known as Guelph Material Recovery Facility) with capacity far in excess of what Guelph will use in the next decades. It is touted that by adding 28,000 tonnes of Detroit material it will allow the facility to operate at 95% of its processing capacity and generate an annual surplus/profit of $304,000.
During the council meeting of 28 April 14, a presentation was made to council by Dean Wyman, the General Manager, Solid Waste Resources Department. The public presentation failed to provide information that would have permitted a Guelph citizen to reasonably evaluate the business plan for financial credibility.
Prior to the meeting I had e-mailed requests for the following information to the mayor and both ward 6 councillors ( Karl Wettstein & Todd Dennis). The elected members of council did not reply to my request which was passed by a city hall staffer to the GM. The final reply I received from the GM, Dean Wyman, to the questions I had posed were:
- cost/tonne to process Guelph generated recyclables – confidential business information,
- cost/tonne to process non-Guelph mixed waste stream – confidential business information,
- what is the charge / tonne to the Michigan based company that is currently sending mixed waste to Guelph- confidential business information,
- what is the cost difference between processing the Guelph generated recyclable stream from blue bins and the non-Guelph based mixed stream – confidential business information,
- will the cost of processing the additional non-Guelph generated mixed stream be above that which is currently processed? – confidential business information.
I was advised by the GM to file a Freedom of Information Request with the city. There seems to be a lack of openness and transparency that keeps Guelph citizens from having the ability to see if the processing of non-Guelph generated recyclables is a solid business venture. In spite of this lack of information provided to the public at the council meeting, mayor Farbridge and a number of councillors (Dennis, Findlay, Hofland, Piper, & Wettstein) voted in favour of the Contract to Process Recyclable Material. These are names to remember on election day.