August 15, 2016 – I found out this morning that there is a Planning Committee meeting beginning at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, August 17 (half an hour before the Council meeting).
The Bare Agenda (no attachments) for the meeting is here. The supporting documents for the proposed re-zoning at the corner of Grey Road 40 and Hwy 6 (Carmichael’s) are here, and for the proposed re-zoning within the Village of Chatsworth to accommodate a Tim Hortons store and gas station are here.
The proposed re-zoning within the Village was discussed at the Planning Committee meeting held on July 6, 2016 – you can see the minutes of that meeting here.
August 14, 2016 – There is a regular Council meeting on Wednesday August 17, 2016 beginning at 6:30 pm. I have broken the package posted on the Chatsworth website apart and put it in the usual format: Click here for the Agenda with links to all supporting documents in the package.
August 2, 2016 – Sorry for being so slow (again) in posting information about the Council meeting that starts tomorrow morning, August 3, 2016 at 10:00 am.
Sensibly, the practise now seems to be that information items are not part of the Council package, nor are they listed on the Agenda; rather, they are posted separately. Click here for the list of items.
July 21, 2016 – WOW! If ever there were an event in the history of Chatsworth indicating significant changes in communication with taxpayers, this is it: the management consultant’s report dated May 11, 2016 has been posted, and not only that, it can be accessed directly from the home page!
Council and staff are to be commended for evidently deciding to change direction with regard to the availability of information (within reason, of course).
I am not going to stop posting stuff yet, but I am hopeful that this blog will soon become redundant. Just in case, however, I have downloaded the Ward & Uptigrove Review from the Chatsworth website and posted it here. We all remember that the Agenda packages for 2014 disappeared from the Chatsworth website earlier this year, and have not yet been put back, so for the moment are only available on this blog).
July 20, 2016 – Here is the Agenda with links to supporting documents for tonight’s Council meeting. I am pressed for time this morning, so I haven’t yet created a new page for this meeting. I hope this will do the trick for now.
July 19, 2016 – There is a Council meeting on Wednesday, July 20th beginning at 6:30 pm. Here is the Agenda without links to the supporting documents.
As many of my loyal readers know, I am involved with the Chatsworth Agricultural Society which is holding our world-famous Fish Fry at the Chatsworth Community Centre (Arena) this afternoon beginning at 5:00 pm. Fresh pickerel and Ontario corn! Because I have been busy with that, I haven’t broken apart and posted the Agenda package in my usual way to make it more user-friendly. My plan is to do that later today if possible, or tomorrow morning.
If you must see something in the package in the meantime, you can download the whole kit and kaboodle from the Chatsworth website by clicking here (it’s about 3.5 MB).
July 11, 2016 – There is a Council meeting on Wednesday, July 13th at 7:30 pm. The only item on the Agenda (which you can see here) has to do with road improvements. My GUESS is that this was Agenda 9.3 at the July 6th meeting, for which the supporting document was report RDS 07-17.
July 5, 2016 – At tomorrow’s Council meeting, there will be opportunities for Chatsworth residents to provide input to draft policies about the Chatsworth website and about methods by which public notices are provided.
Yesterday, I prepared this short presentation which I sent by email to the Acting CAO last night. At the meeting, I intend to use it as an outline for my 5 minutes of fame.
July 3, 2016 – To save loyal readers a couple of clicks, here is the Agenda for the July 6, 2016 Council meeting with links to all of the supporting documents in the package.
Note that the Council is providing an opportunity for input to both the Website Policy and the Notice By-Law (how, when and under what circumstances citizens are provided with notice of pending decisions). Don Rawls and I both sent emails related mainly to the website policy which are included in the package.
I understand that Mr. Rawls is planning to attend the meeting; I will be there as well. In my opinion, a formal opportunity for citizen input on these matters is long overdue.
The reason I started this blog in the first place, of course, had to do with a general lack of information, but especially with regard to the bio-digester on which Chatsworth was spending upwards of half a million dollars per year and getting virtually nothing in return.
July 2, 2016 – The Agenda package for Wednesday’s Council meeting (10:00 am on July 6) is posted on the Chatsworth website. I will break it apart and post it in the usual format this weekend, so please check back first thing on Monday morning. In the meantime, click here for the Agenda only (no links to supporting documents as of yet).
June 20, 2016 – There is a Special meeting of Council on Wednesday June 22, 2016 beginning at 8:00 am to deal with the drainage item that was evidently not dealt with at the last meeting (Agenda 10.2).
Rather than creating a new page, it is convenient for me at the moment to simply provide: the Bare Agenda for June 22, 2016 (note the early start time); additional information appended to the application for this meeting that was not included in the information for the last meeting (this appears to be an extract from the Drainage Act or Regulations); and the Confirming By-Law.
June 18, 2016 – There is an interesting article on The Rural Canadian blog about Chatsworth’s recent staffing changes.
The blog also touches on pending changes in areas of document retention, including a web policy that was on the Council Agenda earlier this week. This will make most people who have occasion to go to the Chatsworth website happy for one simple reason: almost every change that could be made would be an improvement.
June 12, 2016 – The Agenda package for the Council meeting on the evening of June 15 was made available on Friday. I have broken it apart and posted everything in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
There are some interesting developments on the staffing front. Although I cannot find any “official” notice of his departure, it would seem that Will Moore has been replaced by Norm Gamble who is now the Acting CAO/Clerk. Furthermore, two appointments will be made at the June 15 meeting, both effective June 9: Grace Naylor to a new position of Deputy Clerk, and Valerie Manning to the position of Treasurer.
Based on the schedule on the second page of Report CAO 01-16 (Agenda item 9.1 for the June 15 meeting), it would seem that the management consultants (Ward and Uptigrove) made a number of recommendations that will be implemented over time.
Obviously, it isn’t possible to say much on the basis of this single page without the benefit of the full consultants’ report which has not (yet) been made available. However, it is encouraging to see that some changes have been made already, and that Council has initiated an implementation plan.
June 6, 2016 – The Agenda package for the evening Council meeting on June 8 was made available this morning. I have broken it apart and posted everything in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
June 6, 2016 – On June 2, 2016, there was an article in the Owen Sound Sun Times reporting on the Agreement with SusGlobal Energy to operate the bio-digester. For convenient reading and future reference, here is the text of the article.
June 5, 2016 – Chatsworth resident Don Rawls has weighed in on the matter of the Township’s Website Policy that was on the Agenda of the Council meeting on May 11.
I have permission from Mr. Rawls to post his email that was sent to Mayor Pringle earlier today:
Attn Mayor and Council
I have just become aware (via Trevor Falk’s website) that you have / are updating your Website Policy and must say that had I known I also would have had some suggestions and concerns.
“My immediate concern has to do with retention periods. Specifically, there is no reason whatsoever to remove key information after two years as the policy states.
There are documents including minutes on the Grey County website going back 10 years; Georgian Bluffs has documents going back to 2008. For Chatsworth, on the other hand, documents from 2014 have already been removed (leaving less than 1.5 years). What purpose does this serve?
The Website Policy is, in my view, a perfect candidate for public input.”
Firstly I must say that I agree with Trevor that the deletion of material from the web site after only 18 months or so is very troubling. Apart from the fact that some issues before Council may go on for many years thus folks may need to reference earlier material I do not consider such documents as “duplicates” but as an alternative resource. It begs the question, do you also delete such files from you server entirely and rely solely on paper copies of past discussions and decisions, if so you are living in the dark ages when it comes to retrieving information. Yes, the public can attend your office and request to see such documents (with the ensuing staff time to deal with such requests) but it should not be necessary in the digital age to do so.
Secondly whilst your web site has evolved and improved immensely from its inception it is still difficult and time consuming for taxpayers to “keep up” with what is before Council, the discussions and decisions regarding those matters. I have three suggestions in that regard:-
- Publish the “agenda’s” directly on a blog type directly readable web page (rather than a down-loadable PDF), perhaps rolling over after 3 or 4 of the most recent are shown.
- Make this and other similar pages (including the front page) available via an RSS News Feed so that folks can subscribe and receive notification of any new content to such pages.
- Even better provide a “Subscribe to this page” email notification system whereby taxpayers can receive an email notifying them of new content (with a clip or full content of same).
The latter two things can be done automatically and would require no staff time (other than a one-time software update) but would greatly enhance the Township’s web site and the public’s ability to access data on a timely basis. Item one would give taxpayers ‘one click’ access to said agendas but may involve a minute or two more staff time when posting.
Lastly I must also agree with Trevor’s last paragraph, such things certainly beg an opportunity for citizens to have input as to their wishes and ideas on such changes. Such opportunity is only available to them if they know about it hence suggestions #2 and #3.
Regards, Don Rawls
I don’t think Mr. Rawls was aware of a bit of background to my May 10th email that he quoted and that I consider to be interesting.
In particular, the EXACT SAME draft Website Policy was on the Agenda of the Council meeting on March 2, 2016. The minutes of that meeting state: “Council discussed the draft policy for the Township Web Site content. Staff is to review other sites and make recommendations.”
For the May 11 meeting, there was no report on the “review” done by staff. Was a review done, and if so, what were the results and requested recommendations? In this digital age, were staff unable to uncover even one sample policy from another municipality or County? Are there no standards recommended by the provincial government or municipal bodies? Is there NOTHING?
And what is the rationale for the action ALREADY TAKEN to remove information from the Chatsworth website? Is the Administration of Chatsworth Township “in the dark ages” as Mr. Rawls asks? And if so, whose interests are being served?
May 31, 2016 (2:00 pm) – I have finally posted the Agenda for tomorrow’s regular Council meeting that begins at 10:00 am and promises to last all day. The Agenda with links to all of the supporting documents is posted under the Council Meetings tab. Again, sorry for the delay.
May 30, 2016 – There is a regular Council meeting on this coming Wednesday June 1st (10:00 am). The most important item on the Agenda (IMHO) is the proposed Agreement with SusGlobal Energy Canada I Limited regarding the Bio-Digester.
I didn’t post the Agenda for the Council meeting on May 25th in advance of that meeting because it was entirely “in camera.” Its purpose was evidently to continue discussion of the report by the management consultant. Even so, I have now created a separate page for it under the Council Meetings tab.
May 18, 2016 – There is a regular Council Meeting this evening beginning at 6:30 pm. I have broken apart the Agenda package and posted in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
May 17, 2016 – My internet service is provided by GBTel, so I was affected yesterday and today by the widespread problems on their system. But I seem to be back in business now.
There is a Council meeting tomorrow evening – I have the package, and will break it apart and post it in the usual format first thing in the morning.
May 15, 2016 – I have added a new tab – Chatsworth Taxpayers. Please check out the introductory information by clicking on that tab which is how I will let you know about updates under the three (at the moment) sub-tabs. This is important information that every taxpayer in Chatsworth needs to know.
May 15, 2015 – The Joint Board meets with legal counsel tomorrow morning @ 9:00 am. I have posted a copy of the Agenda and the minutes of the April 14 meeting (that was also entirely in-camera) under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
May 10, 2016 – There is a regular Council meeting on Wednesday, May 11th at 6:30 pm that is preceded by a Planning Committee meeting at 6:00 pm. The packages are posted in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
On the Council Meetings page for the May 11 meeting, I have also posted my email to the Mayor and Council this morning about the proposed Website policy that is on the Agenda for that meeting.
May 2, 2016 – There is a regular Council Meeting on Wednesday, May 4th beginning at 10:00 am. The Council package is posted in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
April 18, 2016 – There is a Special Meeting (Chatsworth, West Grey and Grey Highlands) tomorrow at 7:00 pm in Flesherton to review the results from what I understand was a joint RFP for Environmental Services. There is also a regular Chatsworth Council meeting on Wednesday at 6:30 pm.
I have broken the packages apart and posted them in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
April 13, 2016 – There is a Bio-Digester Joint Board meeting tomorrow beginning at 9:00 am. It appears that the meeting will be largely or wholly in-camera (solicitor / client privilege related to the possible arrangements with SusGlobal).
April 11, 2016 – I’m caught up now and have posted the information for the regular Council meeting held on April 6.
April 11, 2016 – I’m back after having a great trip. It rained just twice at the choir festival in Dublin last week; the first time for 4 days, and the second time for 3 days. The locals say they can tell when it’s summer because the rain is a bit warmer. Even so, it’s a beautiful country and the people were very friendly – and we sang with some wonderful choirs.
In checking the Chatsworth website upon my return, I noted all of the important flood-related notices on the Home page. This is far better than requiring visitors to click on the “Notice of Public Meeting” button which has nothing behind it about 99% of the time.
The Agenda package for the Regular Council meeting on Wednesday, April 13 at 6:30 pm has been posted. I have broken it apart and posted in a new (faster for me) format. Your comments are welcome.
April 5, 2016 – I am out of the country at the moment, and don’t have the software or the time to break apart the agenda package for tomorrow’s regular Council meeting that begins at 10:00 am.
I note that there is a resolution regarding funding for the Bio-Digester (Agenda 11.6). My take on the “back story” to this is as follows:
- Chatsworth Council passed a resolution refusing to continue to pay half the cost of transportation of the septage and sewage from the Sunset Strip;
- Chatsworth Council expressed its discontent in this way because it seemed more “positive” to some Councilors than using the only mechanism in the Agreement (which is to give notice of termination);
- Georgian Bluffs ignored this expression of discontent for the simple reason that they are quite content with having half of the costs picked up by Chatsworth;
- Chatsworth Council decided to not “push;”
- Georgian Bluffs chose to ignore the situation, knowing full well that Chatsworth is legally on the hook and has no alternative but to pay in the end; and
- At the last Bio-Digester meeting, Mayor Barfoot made reference to the termination provision, so it is obvious that the next move is up to Chatsworth.
We are now one-quarter of the way through another year. Will Mayor Pringle continue to hope against hope that some sort of agreement with a third party will magically resolve the situation so he doesn’t have to disagree with Mayor Barfoot, or will Mayor Pringle actually stand up for the taxpayers of Chatsworth Township?
Obviously, there is no alternative but to pay for 2015. Equally obviously, there is no alternative but for Chatsworth to give notice of termination (something that should have been done long ago).
I will break the Agenda package apart and post it in the usual format upon my return, for convenience and for reference in the future.
March 21, 2016 – There is a meeting of the Joint Management Board for the Bio-Digester tomorrow (Tuesday, March 22) beginning at 8:00 am. Draft financial statements will be presented by the auditors towards the beginning of the meeting. The lawyers engaged to advise the Board regarding negotiations with SusGlobal are on the agenda for 9:00 am (likely to be entirely in-camera).
I have posted the Agenda package in the usual format under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab, and will provide a report on the meeting afterwards (in a day or two, as time permits).
Note that much of the agenda package for this meeting was actually carried over from the March 4 meeting. As a matter of fact, the only new item on this Agenda is Item 6 (3) which is an email from the District Manager of the Ministry of the Environment, Mr. Chappell, advising of a “policy review.”
Followers of this blog will remember the reference to Mr. Chappell by Mayor Pringle at the all-candidates meeting on October 2, 2014 (see Elections tab). In his “closing remarks” at that meeting (ten minutes on a soap-box at the end that was evidently prearranged with and agreed by the “neutral” moderator), the Mayor referred to a meeting earlier on that very day at which the Ministry of the Environment (Mr. Chappell) had indicated the possibility of money for some sort of “pilot project.”
Aside from the fact that this meeting was held under provisions of the Elections Act that does not grant special privileges to incumbents, this was an obvious attempt by Mayor Pringle to paper over legitimate concerns about the bio-digester that he (and the “neutral” moderator) knew would be raised. Of course no such money ever appeared from on-high, and Mr. Chappell’s name has not been raised in any Joint Board Management meeting since then (18 months ago).
March 14, 2016 – The package for the Council meeting scheduled for this coming Wednesday, March 16 at 6:30 pm has been broken apart and posted in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
** Please note that I will be unable to post the package for the next scheduled meeting (on Wednesday, April 6) until a couple of days AFTER that meeting. My apologies.
March 8, 2016 – At about 1:45 pm today, I was notified that the Council held a special in-camera meeting with the management consultant this morning beginning at 9:00 am. Here is the Agenda, for the record.
The first special in-camera meeting with the same management consultant was on February 17, 2016. According to the minutes of that meeting (which were approved at the regular Council meeting on March 2, 2016), no senior staff were in attendance.
March 7, 2016 – There is a Regular Council meeting on Wednesday evening, March 9 beginning at 6:30 pm. I have broken apart the pre-meeting package and posted it in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
March 4, 2016 – The Joint Management Board meeting this morning was shortened to a little less than one hour. It was essentially all in camera (as per my short report under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab). The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 22 beginning at 8:00 am.
March 3, 2016 – There is a Joint Bio-Digester meeting tomorrow morning at the office of Georgian Bluffs, beginning at 9:00 am (not the usual 8:00 am). I have broken apart the agenda package and posted it in the usual format under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
I plan to attend the meeting and prepare and post a report afterwards as usual.
February 29, 2016 – There is a Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday of this week, beginning at 9:30 am (click here for the Bare Agenda). This will be followed by a regular Council meeting beginning at 10:00 am (click here for the Bare Agenda).
I have broken the packages apart and posted the supporting documents in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
February 16, 2016 – The information package for the regular Council meeting on February 17th beginning at 6:30 pm wasn’t made available until mid-afternoon today. I have broken it apart and posted it in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
Two things of note. First, the public meeting on the 2016 budget, notice of which was first posted on February 6 (but without any agenda or supporting information), will take place beginning at 6:30 pm as part of the February 17 Council meeting. See my posts of February 6 and February 13, below.
Second, there is closed meeting of Council on February 17, 2016 beginning at 4:30 pm. I think this will be the first presentation by Ward & Uptigrove of their draft report. I think that the usual procedure would be for a management consultant to first review its report with senior staff, but to the credit of Council, this wasn’t done in this case.
February 13, 2016 – Yesterday, an information package for the February 17th public meeting about the budget was posted on the Chatsworth website (click here). The purpose of the meeting still isn’t clear, but at least taxpayers have the opportunity to read and think about some background information.
Readers have congratulated me for this “victory for common sense” following my email a week ago (see below), but I prefer to think that that it was always their intention and that they just forgot to mention the upcoming information package when the original notice was posted.
February 10, 2016 (noon) – The meeting between the two councils is scheduled for Thursday, February 11 beginning at 5:30 pm. Here is the Agenda (no supporting information is posted).
February 10, 2016 – Yesterday, I sent an email to the Mayor and Council with summary information about the Bio-Digester and options for dealing with septage taken from the two engineering consultant’s reports commissioned by the Chatsworth Council. The short report I sent, and a “Coles Notes” version, are posted under the Bio-Digester (Hiding the Costs) tab.
I thought it would be helpful for the Chatsworth Council to have this summary information in the event that tomorrow’s meeting with Georgian Bluffs takes place. The February 11 meeting was scheduled in mid-December, but no advance information is available as of yet (10:00 am).
In addition, and as usual, I sent copies of my report on the January 22, 2016 Joint Board meeting (see Feb 9 post, below) to the Mayor and Council. My reason for doing this, of course, is that otherwise there is no useful record of what actually transpired at the meeting.
February 9, 2016 – I finally got around to writing and posting my report on the Joint Board meeting on January 22, 2016. It is posted under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
February 8, 2016 – There is a Council meeting on Wednesday evening, February 10 beginning at 6:30 pm. You will find the Agenda and supporting documents posted it in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
February 6, 2016 – Email about the up-coming public meeting about the 2016 Budget
The following is a copy of my self-explanatory email sent this morning. With regard to the proposed Bumstead pit (see yesterday’s post, below), I am sure that I’m not the only one who will be interested in seeing what financial implications there might already be in the 2016 Budget, and what was assumed in that regard.
Dear Mayor Pringle, Deputy-Mayor Mackey, Councillor Gamble, Councillor Greig and Councillor Thompson,
Public Meeting on February 17th – “2016 Municipal Budget”
I am wondering about the purpose of this meeting. The notice doesn’t provide any clue, nor is there any advance information for people to think about. With respect, therefore, it looks awfully much like the purpose of the meeting is so that somebody can tick off the box that says “held public meeting on 2016 budget.”
Do you actually expect people to take time out of their busy schedules to drive to the Township Office without knowing the purpose of the meeting and without any advance information? And if they do attend the meeting only to find out that it’s too late for their opinions to influence 2016 expenditures, do you think that will help or hinder whatever purpose you have in mind for the meeting?
Honestly, how can you expect people to ask reasonable questions or make intelligent comments without the benefit of any advance information? The Council receives information in advance of meetings – don’t taxpayers deserve the same courtesy?
As I understand it, it’s too late for much in the way of taxpayer input on the 2016 budget. That being the case, this meeting could be an opportunity to discuss the challenges you faced this year and that are looming. One way to show some aspects of that might be to provide basic categories of expenditures in 2014, 2015 and now 2016, with, for example, % changes from 2015 to 2016 and a few words of explanation about the top ten categories with the biggest % changes. This would then be a start to laying the groundwork for 2017 not just for taxpayers, but for the Council.
The Council already has information like this, so it would not take much (or any) extra work to post this sort of information along with the notice of the meeting.
Yours truly, Trevor Falk
February 5, 2016 – Information about the proposed Bumstead Pit (near Berkeley).
The Chatsworth Taxpayers For a Safe and Healthy Environment have been working hard, including spending their own money, to get information onto the Chatsworth Council table and the Grey County table about the impacts of the proposed re-zoning of property west of Berkeley from ‘agricultural’ to ‘mineral resource extraction’ (ie gravel pit).
I am astonished to realize that this re-zoning has the potential of increasing ALL property taxes throughout the Township by more than 5%. Until the Chatsworth Taxpayers brought this information forward, I certainly didn’t realize that I was subsidising the owners and operators of gravel pits through my municipal property taxes. Clearly there are both local and broad issues here that aren’t widely known and understood.
As a taxpayer, I would encourage the Chatsworth Council and then Grey County Council to develop a ‘strategic’ approach to the broader issues involved in this application (and in others that presumably have similar effects on the community). It seems to me that this application could be ‘Exhibit A’ in demonstrating how ordinary people can be shafted through the application of a regulatory regime that obviously doesn’t cover a lot of the REAL impacts.
February 1, 2016 – The supporting information for the Council meeting that is scheduled to begin at 10:00 am on Wednesday February 3 is now available and posted in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab. Note that the supporting information also includes information for a 9:30 am Planning Committee meeting regarding a minor variance on the Holland-Euphrasia Town Line.
This evening, I will post my report on the Joint Board Bio-Digester meeting that was held on Friday, January 22, 2016.
January 20, 2016 – A meeting of the Joint Management Board is scheduled for Friday morning, January 22 beginning at 8:00 am. The information package was posted on the Georgian Bluffs website mid-morning today. Please check back by late this afternoon, by which time I will have it broken apart and posted in the usual format under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
Note that the package contains a report from the Director of Operations regarding negotiations with SusGlobal. It is not clear what involvement Chatsworth staff and the special advisor to the Chatsworth Council have had in any of this.
January 17, 2016 – The package for the Council meeting on Wednesday, January 20 was made available over the weekend. The supporting information is posted in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
January 13, 2016 (4:15 pm) – Tonight’s scheduled Council meeting has been postponed on account of the weather. No alternative date mentioned yet.
January 11, 2016 – There is a Council meeting on Wednesday, January 13 beginning at 7:00 pm. The Agenda and supporting materials are posted in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
January 4, 2016 – There is a Council meeting on Wednesday, January 6, 2016 beginning at 9:30 am. This meeting includes a Public Meeting regarding water rates.
The Council meeting is preceded by a Planning Committee meeting at 9:00 am. Supporting documents are posted under the Council Meetings tab in the usual format.
December 30, 2015 – I have finally finished and posted my report on the December 18, 2015 Joint Board meeting. You’ll find it under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
December 27, 2015 (1:00 pm) – I have learned that the 10% figure I have been quoting was in relation to the proposed local portion of the budget. The eventual tax increase will be calculated on overall expenditures that will include Education and Grey County budgets, of course. Rather than changing the previous posts, I’ll simply make a note to refer to this post.
I have also learned that, at its meeting on December 22, the Council pared down the 10.2% to something in the order of 6%, and that they have not yet dealt with either Administration or Recreation.
December 27, 2015 (9:00 am) – I have done a bit of organizing and cleaning up of this site, with more to come later today and tomorrow (including my long-delayed report on the Joint Meeting with Georgian Bluffs on December 18, 2015).
Note that the Chatsworth Council will be meeting again this coming Tuesday evening (December 29 at 7:00 pm) to continue discussions or perhaps finalize the 2016 budget. I imagine the Council will succeed in shaving a percent or two off the proposed 10% increase. [See note made at 1:00 pm, above.]
In my dreams, I also imagine what Chatsworth’s finances would be like without the Bio-Digester millstone around our proverbial necks, keeping in mind that we still owe around $900,000 on it and that it has cost more than $1 million in operating costs over the last five years. Over this entire period, fewer than 250 Chatsworth septic tanks have been taken there.
December 22, 2015 – I received notice that the Agenda package for tonight’s meeting has been revised. The revision replaces the pie chart (page 2 of the package) with this chart which is much more meaningful. As far as I can see, the numbers have not been changed. That is, we are still looking at a tax increase of around 10% [see note made Dec 27 @ 1:00 pm, above].
December 21, 2015 – I learned this morning that there is a special Council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) evening beginning at 6:00 pm to consider the 2016 budget. I will break the package apart later today and post it in the usual format. If you can’t possibly wait, it’s on the Chatsworth website (click here).
My report on the Joint Bio-Digester Board meeting last Friday morning isn’t complete yet. Later today or tomorrow, I hope …
December 17, 2015 (3:00 pm) – The package for the Bio-Digester Joint Management Board meeting that begins tomorrow morning at 8:00 am was made available to me earlier this afternoon. It is now broken apart and posted in the usual format under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
December 14, 2015 – There is a regular Council meeting on this coming Wednesday morning, December 16 beginning at 9:30. You will find the Agenda and supporting documents under the Council Meetings tab.
Notable items of general interest on the agenda include the minutes of the September 29, 2015 public meeting regarding the proposed Bumstead pit, suggested dates for a joint meeting with the Council of Georgian Bluffs about the bio-digester, and if I read it correctly, a proposed By-Law that would require a permit for ALL fires in the Township, including burning barrels and marshmallow roasts.
December 8, 2015 – Here is the Bare Agenda for the Council meeting tomorrow evening. There will be a discussion about the service provided by Saugeen Mobility at 7:00 pm, following which there will be a presentation on the financial impacts of the proposed Bumstead pit on nearby residents and on taxpayers generally.
Yesterday, I received another document having to do with the Township’s liability in the event that road upgrades are not made to accommodate the increased truck traffic that will result from the proposed Bumstead pit.
December 8, 2015 – Here is the Bare Agenda for a special budget meeting that was held yesterday. I did have this agenda in advance, and determined that none of the drafts would be provided in electronic form in advance.
It crossed my mind to take the time to drive over to the meeting and ask for copies of the information that I would then post, but it wasn’t to be. I cannot explain why being open with taxpayers is such a problem. In any event, if any of my faithful readers found out about the meeting, attended it and managed to get copies, please send them along and I’d be happy to post them.
December 2, 2015 – After reading my report on the November 27, 2015 Joint Board meeting (link to my report was posted yesterday under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab), Chatsworth resident Ray Hunt was inspired to send an email to the Mayor and Council regarding the Bio-Digester budget for 2015. This draft budget will be on the table again at the next Joint Board meeting (scheduled for December 18th).
Mr. Hunt kindly sent a copy of his email to me along with his permission for me to post it here:
Mayor Pringle, Deputy Mayor Mackey, Councillor Gamble, Councillor Greig, Councillor Thompson & CAO Moore
At the Chatsworth Council meeting on Dec 18/2013, a motion (446-2013) was made, seconded and carried by recorded vote (in favour – Gamble, Mackey, McKay, Vlielander, opposed – Pringle) for Chatsworth to end the subsidizing of the Sunset Strip tipping fees and transportation costs and to have a joint meeting of both Councils to discuss this resolution.
At the Chatsworth Council meeting on March 4/15, a motion (103-2015) was made, seconded and carried for Chatsworth to end the subsidizing of the Sunset Strip’s tippage fees and transportation costs.
Today you are being asked to approve a biodigester budget that ignores your two passed motions.
In order to protest the continuation of unfairness of the Sunset Strip tippage fees and transportation costs that are foisted on to Chatsworth, refusing to pass the budget is in order. Passing it would be total submission. However, if due to time constraints it must be dealt with there is an alternative. Remove the inequities and pass it as revised.
Please don’t give up. Stand your ground.
Regards, Ray Hunt
December 1, 2015 (10:00 pm) – I finally finished my report on the Joint Management Board meeting that was held on November 27, 2015. It is posted under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
A very short while ago, I sent a copy of this report to the Mayor and Councilors because the Councilors who were not at the meeting need to know what really happened (which will most certainly not be captured in the minutes that are eventually published).
November 30, 2015 (6:30 pm) – The entire agenda package for the Chatsworth Council meeting at 9:30 am on Wednesday, December 2 is now posted in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
My report on the Bio-Digester Joint Management Board meeting last Friday is not yet ready to be posted. The meeting included a recorded vote in which Mayor Pringle supported Georgian Bluffs’ bizarre interpretation of the February 2, 2011 Agreement. Deputy-Mayor Mackey voted in support of common sense and Chatsworth taxpayers. This is yet another example that supports my view that the Agreement is hopelessly unworkable.
Unfortunately, there were no taxpayers from Georgian Bluffs in attendance at the meeting to hear Mayor Barfoot’s description of how he and Deputy-Mayor Burley are “extremely careful” about information they pass along to the Georgian Bluffs Council regarding the Bio-Digester.
Please stay tuned …
November 25, 2015 – Last night’s Special Council meeting was very interesting. Council has engaged a management consultant (Ward & Uptigrove) to review and provide advice on the operation and management of the Township office. Some help in this area has been needed badly for a long time.
There is a meeting of the Bio-Digester Joint Management Board on Friday morning, November 27 beginning at 8:00 am. The Agenda and supporting information are poster in the usual format under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab).
November 23, 2015 (1:00 pm) – I see that a Special Council meeting has been called for tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov 24 at 5:30 pm) ” … to discuss a proposal to perform a review of the Administration of the Township with consultants Ward & Uptigrove.”
Here is the Bare Agenda for this meeting. No supporting documents are available as of yet.
November 23, 2015 (8:45 am) – Last week, Chatsworth resident Ray Hunt sent an email to the Mayor and Council on the subject of closed meetings. Mr. Hunt copied me, and I obtained his permission to post it (I have done that now – you’ll find it under the Bio-Digester tab).
The first half-hour of the last Bio-Digester meeting (on October 30) and more than one hour of the last Chatsworth Council meeting (on November 18) were held in secret on the basis of something contained in the report by Conestoga-Rovers. The critical point is that, by their own admission, neither Mayor Pringle nor Deputy-Mayor Mackey had even received a copy of this report (and obviously, therefore, had not read it) up to and including the time of their decision on November 18 to kick taxpayers out of the meeting.
Closing a meeting to the public is not a trivial decision to be made on the basis of convenience, or “just in case” which appears to be what is happening more often than not. In my view, accepting a staff recommendation to close a meeting without question is an abrogation of responsibility by our elected representatives.
November 23, 2015 – I was almost impossibly “behind the curve” last week, so I have some catching up to do this week. There will be a post about another Freedom of Information request (made last Wednesday) and some commentary about closed meetings.
At this point (7:30 am) I don’t know whether the Chatsworth Council will be meeting on Wednesday, November 25th or not. There is a Bio-Digester Joint Management Board meeting scheduled for Friday morning, November 27th that may prove to be interesting if it goes ahead.
So … please stay tuned.
November 15, 2015 – The Agenda package for the Council meeting on Wednesday November 18, 2015 was posted on Friday. The documents are all posted and available now under the Council Meetings tab.
November 11, 2015 – The Nov 10 edition of the Owen Sound Sun Times carried an article related to the organic waste collection program that is being discussed for the city. Click here for the text of the article and to see the two paragraphs I have highlighted.
The $218,000 figure for the extra cost to Owen Sound (in the first highlighted paragraph) is consistent with the previous article that said the figures assumed a tipping fee of $25 per tonne at the Bio-Digester and that this has already been agreed by Georgian Bluffs.
The second highlighted paragraph provides incomplete and misleading information when it states that the Bio-Digester “can accept kitchen and yard waste.” The truth is that a large but as of yet unknown quantity of additional capital and additional operating costs would be required to remove plastics, grit and foreign materials that typically occur in kitchen and yard waste.
This being the case, the cost to Owen Sound of $25 per tonne (that the Nov 9 article says has already been agreed by Georgian Bluffs, and upon which the $218,000 figure is based) cannot actually be anything more than a guess.
November 11, 2015 – The November 9 edition of the Owen Sound Sun Times carried an article about a program to collect organic waste in Owen Sound, tentatively starting mid-2016. Click here to see a copy of the text of the article with my underlining to highlight those portions that I find to be especially noteworthy. Note that there is not a single reference to Chatsworth in the article.
The taxpayers of Chatsworth have paid 50% of the capital and operating costs for the Bio-Digester since construction started in 2010, in exchange for which we have received virtually nothing. The total net cost to Chatsworth taxpayers to date is more than two million dollars (approximately half capital and half operating costs). Note that this net cost of $2+ million includes all of the credits for the tipping fees and hydro generation revenue that our leaders claimed in 2011 would result in the Bio-Digester paying for itself in “less than 10 years.”
November 4, 2015 – I have posted my report on the October 30, 2015 Joint Board meeting under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
November 1, 2015 – The Agenda and supporting materials for the Council meeting on November 4, 2015 are now available under the Council Meetings tab.
October 31, 2015 – First, there is a Council meeting on Wednesday, November 4th beginning at 9:30 am. Here is the bare Agenda. I’ll post the supporting documents before Monday.
You’ll see on the November 4th Agenda that the Council is allowing for the possibility of an in-camera discussion about the Bio-Digester. I am pleased about this because yesterday’s meeting of the Joint Management Board was truly astounding. For this reason, my report on that meeting is going to take a fair bit of time and thought even though it will not be long; my goal is to post it before the Chatsworth Council meeting on Wednesday.
For now, suffice it to say that there were two very worrisome developments at yesterday’s Bio-Digester meeting. First, the engineering consulting firm Conestoga-Rovers (now GHD) that provided objective, sound technical advice to the Chatsworth Council and then to the Joint Board is no longer involved. Second, it would appear that the same staff whose collective technical, business and management knowledge and skills brought us to this point have regained control of the process which had been initiated with the goal of exploring options and selecting the one that was in the best interest of taxpayers.
October 28, 2015 – My apologies for not posting a note last Thursday when I found out that the Joint Bio-Digester Management Board meeting scheduled for Oct 23rd had been cancelled.
The next Joint Management Board meeting for the Bio-Digester is now scheduled for this coming Friday October 30, beginning at 8:00 am at the Georgian Bluffs office. Here is the Bare Agenda (no supporting documents). I have posted an Agenda with links to all of the supporting documents in the usual format under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
October 19, 2015 (3:30 pm) – The start time shown on the Agenda for the meeting on Wednesday has been revised to 9:30 am (see revised Bare Agenda).
October 19, 2015 – This morning, I sent an email to the Mayor and Council about the need for clear financial information in audit reports. The email is posted under the Bio-Digester tab. Click on the sub-tab subject titled Hiding the Costs.
October 19, 2015 – Here is the Bare Agenda for the next Council meeting on Wednesday, October 21 beginning at 9:00 am. You will find the supporting information in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
Here is a link to the Bayshore Broadcasting article on Thursday and the article in the Owen Sound Sun Times on Saturday about the possibility of Chatsworth and Georgian Bluffs finding a “partner” for the Bio-Digester. The townships have been pursuing this since the late spring.
There is supposed to be a Bio-Digester Joint Management Board meeting this coming Friday, October 23 to deal with a report being prepared with the help of the engineering consulting firm Conestogo Rovers. You’ll find my report on the last Joint Board meeting (held on September 25) under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab. When the report is available, hopefully on Wednesday, I will post it along with anything else provided in advance of the meeting.
October 12, 2015 – The next meeting of the Council is on this coming Wednesday, October 14, beginning at 7 pm. You’ll find the supporting information in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
From my understanding of Financial Report 14-15, the proposed tax collecting policy at Agenda 10.1 is new (that is, it is not an update of an existing policy).
October 5, 2015 – The information package for the regular Council meeting on October 7 is available in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab. Note that the starting time at the top of the Bare Agenda is said to be 9:30 am but that there is a Planning Committee meeting beginning at 9:00 am (Item 6 on the Agenda of the regular Council meeting). Sometimes one wonders … …
September 28, 2015 – I see there is a special “Closed Session” of Council on Wednesday, September 30 beginning at 9:30 am. Click here for the notice of meeting.
September 25, 2015 – I attended the Bio-digester Joint Board meeting this morning. You will find my brief report under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
September 23, 2015 – The agenda package for Friday’s early morning Joint Bio-Digester meeting is posted on the Georgian Bluffs website. I have broken it apart as usual and posted the information in a user-friendly format under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
September 21, 2015 – The agenda package for Wednesday’s regular Council meeting at 9:30 am was posted mid-morning. There is a Planning Committee meeting at 9:00 for a minor variance. Here is the bare Agenda for the Council meeting. I have broken the agenda package apart and posted it all in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
I see there are two in camera items: 1) Zoning by-law “education and training”; and 2) “Proposed acquisition or disposition of land …”. It seems weird to me that education and training needs to be discussed out of the public eye. The second reason was the one used initially regarding the possible lease of the bio-digester, so let’s hope that this is the start of some thinking about finding a way out of the swamp.
September 15, 2015 – Chatsworth resident Ray Hunt’s Sept 14 email to Mayor Pringle and Council about the bio-digester Agreement is posted under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab. Mr. Hunt concludes with a point that certainly does not appear to be front and centre now, if it ever was: “Look after the Chatsworth ratepayers.”
September 13, 2015 – I have prepared and posted my report on key aspects of the meeting of the Bio-Digester Joint Management Board on Friday morning. You’ll find it under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
September 10, 2015 – Here is the Bare Agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the Joint Management Board. An Agenda with links and the supporting documents are posted under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
There are two key items on the Agenda. The first is the staff report regarding the SusGlobal Energy Proposal that was awarded fewer than the minimum number of points required. The second key item is the 2015 Budget (Agenda 9.1) that incorporates Chatsworth’s continuing subsidies of the Sunset Strip that the present Chatsworth Council has already said it will not support.
September 8, 2015 – The Council package for the Regular Council meeting on Wednesday evening, Sept 9 beginning at 7:00 pm was posted first thing this morning. Here is the bare Agenda. The supporting information is in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
I see from the resolutions included at Agenda Item 10.1 that the in camera meeting last week evidently had to do with work load assessment and performance appraisals. Congratulations to the Council for tackling this — it is not easy but obviously necessary, and long overdue. At some point in the process, one would hope that the people who pay the bills would have an opportunity for some generic input.
August 31, 2015 – The Council package for the Regular Council meeting on Wednesday September 2 beginning at 9:30 am was posted a bit before noon. Here is the bare Agenda. Information about the changes to the Zoning By-Law have been on the Chatsworth website for some time already but here are the links: Notice; Letter about changes; Draft proposed By-Law. The rest of the supporting information is available in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
August 25, 2015 – I have written a report on yesterday’s Bio-Digester meeting. You’ll find it under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
Aug 24, 2014 – I attended this morning’s meeting of the Joint Management Board for the Bio-digester. The meeting started with an in camera session for about half an hour, and then lasted about another half an hour. I will prepare and post a report in the next day or two.
Aug 24, 2014 – There is a regular meeting of the Chatsworth Council on this coming Wednesday, August 26 at 7:00 pm. Here is the bare Agenda. Even though there are only 3 other documents in the Agenda package, they are posted in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
Aug 21, 2015 – An Agenda without any attachments has been posted for a Joint Management Board meeting on Monday, Aug 24 at 9:00 am at the Georgian Bluffs Council chambers. The purpose of the meeting is said to “review the RFP’s” received (the deadline was yesterday).
For the meeting to be meaningful, the Joint Board will obviously require copies of any proposals in advance of the meeting, so presumably they will be posted later today. Also, I assume the consultant (Conestogo-Rovers) will evaluate the proposals and bring recommendations to the meeting about next steps which likely will involve detailed negotiations between and among the parties. Stay tuned …
August 3, 2015 – Agenda packages were put up on the Chatsworth website on Friday for meetings on Wednesday, August 5. Here are the bare agendas for the Planning Committee meeting at 9:00 am and the regular Council meeting at 9:30 am. The supporting documents are posted in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
July 29, 2015 – I expect (hope) that we’ll get some insight into the garbage confusion issue at the next Council meeting. The information on the Chatsworth website is now clear: two bags of garbage per household every two weeks rather than one bag every two weeks as stated in the flyer mailed to every household a couple of weeks ago.
I suppose there will need to be another mailing, but even so, I’ll bet the phones at the office will be ringing a fair bit more than usual for a while.
In any event, here is what the web site says this morning:
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays garbage collections continue until the end of August. Effective September 1, 2015 the current Recycling Schedule WILL BE the Schedule for both Garbage and Recycling. All you have to remember is to put out two (2) garbage bags with your recycling bags every other Tuesday according to the current Recycling Schedule! Any additional bags of garbage require a bag tag.
July 27, 2015 – The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is conducting a review of the 2014 municipal election with a view to considering changes to the Municipal Elections Act. My submission, sent about 4:30 pm today, is under the ELECTION tab.
July 24, 2015 – GARBAGE CONFUSION REIGNS which naturally leads to the question: How exactly are decisions made in Chatsworth, anyway?
Chatsworth taxpayers recently received a notice about changes in garbage pickup. The notice came by mail and states clearly that: 1) garbage will be picked up every other week effective September 1, 2015; 2) any more than one bag every two weeks requires a tag; and 3) additional tags will be available for sale. Ten (10) extra tags were included with the notice for the purpose of “making the transition easier.”
Chatsworth resident Ray Hunt sent an email to the Council earlier this week, asking about how the decision to cut the allowance for garbage in half was reached. I have Mr. Hunt’s permission to post his email which follows:
Mayor Pringle, Deputy Mayor Mackey, Councillor Gamble, Councillor Greig, Councillor Thompson and CAO/Clerk Moore.
I am wondering if someone could clarify some difficulties I am having with the new garbage policy and how it was handled at the June 24/15 Council meeting.
First, it was listed under New Business as 11.2 Waste & Recycling contracts.
Secondly, it states that “Staff was directed to call for quotes for Waste Pickup on a By-weekly basis.” It does not mention the bag reduction. One would think that if Council had given this direction, it would be “Unfinished Business”. A review of all agendas and minutes will show no previous discussion on this bi-weekly issue and further, no discussion on the one bag issue. As the quotes were in hand on June 24th, obviously this direction was given beforehand. If it came from Council or if it came through Mr. Moore from Council, it should be in the minutes. Unless of course, there is a procedure I am unaware of. Any necessary discussion on this issue would not qualify for a closed meeting.
I would think that a change from weekly garbage pickup to by-weekly and one bag per week to one bag by-weekly is quite a bit more than just issuing new contracts. Further, the minutes do not contain one word about “one bag by-weekly” in neither the staff direction to call for quotes nor the motion awarding the contract.
The minutes do not indicate whether quotes were received on garbage pickup weekly as is currently done in order to make comparisons.
So my questions are:
1. Who directed staff to call for quotes on a bi-weekly basis?
2. When was staff directed to call for quotes on a bi-weekly basis?
3. Did staff also call for quotes on a weekly basis?
4. Did staff also call for quotes on a bi-weekly basis with two bags?
5. Did Council vote on the bi-weekly pickup?
6. Did Council vote on the one bag limit?
7. As one bag bi-weekly will not handle the Ontario average household garbage collection even among the top waste diversion municipalities, did Council consider it likely most households would have to buy bag tags?
8. Many municipalities have public meetings on this issue. Did Council consider this?
Considering the above and with a lack of further information, it might be thought that the decision to go to bi-weekly and one bag had been made before June 24th. Not including the quotes with the agenda adds mystery. Nothing in the minutes plus nothing in the agenda package equals no ratepayer heads up.
The concern about reducing landfill waste in the flyer is quite entertaining considering Chatsworth signed on to an agreement that would allow Georgian Bluffs to use our landfill without limitations.
I had previously suggested that the flyer sent with the final tax bill contain some explanation of the never ending Chatsworth tax increases. Again, there is nothing in the flyer. Perhaps Council believes an explanation is only necessary every four years.
I thank you in advance for your answers to all of my questions.
Regards, Ray Hunt
I understand from Mr. Hunt this morning that he was contacted by a Member of Council after sending this email. Mr. Hunt concluded from the discussion that Council either changed, clarified or corrected its position on the one-bag issue, and that two bags will be permitted every two weeks.
My own follow-up on this provided mixed results. The note on the Chatsworth website this afternoon (see screen shot here) says that the “one bag every two weeks has been changed to two bags every two weeks.” However, when you click on the “View” button beside this statement, a page comes up that is different from the notice sent by mail to every household in Chatsworth a couple of weeks ago, although it still says one bag every two weeks: click here to see a downloaded extract).
1. Every property owner was mailed information to the effect that the one bag per week allowance was being cut in half, to one bag every two weeks;
2. A second notice is posted on the website that has the same information as the notice that was mailed, but it is worded differently; and
3. There is a one-sentence note on the website providing information contrary to both #1 and #2, above, but it is necessary to look for that note (it isn’t prominently posted on the Chatsworth home page).
Mr. Hunt’s question about a public meeting is interesting. I THINK that the Municipal Act requires a public meeting before tax increases, but perhaps this is just a courtesy. It would be appreciated if one of my loyal readers would please advise on this. I wonder about this because, in my view, reducing from one bag every week to one bag every two weeks looks awfully much like a tax increase (fewer services for the same amount of money).
July 23, 2015 – It is my understanding that, at yesterday’s meeting, Council put the draft Terracedent Agreement “on hold” for the time being. One wonders why something like this, that would have confused if not scuttled the RFP process, was brought to the Council table in the first place.
July 21, 2015 (10:00 am) – Here is the text of an email I sent this morning to the Chatsworth Council regarding the draft Terracedent Agreement on the Agenda for tomorrow’s Council meeting:
I see that Georgian Bluffs’ Mayor Barfoot and CAO Morrison have signed the draft Terracendent Agreement that is part of the Agenda package for tomorrow’s Council meeting (item 9.3, item 14.1 and draft By-law 2015-57).
The “draft” or “final” RFP documents are not posted on the Chatsworth website, but CAO Moore provided a draft to me by email on the morning of June 24, 2014 (note typo in original email: should have been 2015). From this draft, it appeared that Conestoga-Rovers was recommending a very flexible approach, at least initially, in that the “Revenue Sharing Detail Form” that was part of the draft did not contain any contractual volumes. According to the minutes if the June 24, 2015 Council meeting, no change was made to this approach. Nor was any change made at the June 25, 2015 Joint Bio-Digester Management Board meeting that I attended. Therefore, I assume that the RFP as issued did not show a contractual volume and price for Terracedent.
With respect, I seriously question the advisability of approving the draft Agreement at this time. The reason, of course, is that this would have the effect of filling in some of the blanks on the Revenue Sharing Detail Form that was part of the RFP, thus effectively changing the RFP.
July 21, 2015 – I’ve broken apart the Agenda package for the Council meeting tomorrow (July 22 at 9:30 am) and posted the components in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
July 6, 2015 – The Agenda package for the Council meeting on Wednesday at 9:30 am was posted an hour or so ago. Here is the bare Agenda. I will break the package apart and post the individual supporting documents by around 4:00 today, so please check back then.
July 3, 2015 – Last night, I posted my report on the June 25 Bio-Digester meeting. You will find it under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
July 1, 2015 – I apologize to my faithful readers for being so slow to update this blog.
I have posted copies of the two documents prepared by Conestoga-Rovers consultants that were made available to me on the morning of the June 24 Chatsworth Council meeting. You will find these documents under the tab for the June 24, 2015 Council meeting.
I have also posted the Agenda and all of the supporting documents for the June 25 Bio-Digester Joint Board meeting (under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab). I will post my report on that meeting sometime tomorrow. There were some surprises!
June 25, 2015 @ 6:30 am – Just discovered that there is a Joint Bio-Digester meeting this morning, starting at 8:00 am. Here is the Agenda; the entire package is on the Georgian Bluffs website.
Note that there will be discussion of the work by Conestoga-Rovers about leasing the Bio-Digester to a third party, and also about the Sunset Strip subsidies that Chatsworth has being paying for more than four years now. This will be the first time that this has been discussed by the Joint Board (except peripherally) and voted on, even though the first Chatsworth Council motion to this effect was made on December 18, 2013.
I’ll prepare and post a report on the meeting in due course.
June 23, 2015 – The Agenda package for the extra meeting this month (on Wednesday beginning at 6:00 pm) was posted late yesterday afternoon. It is now available in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab. The driving force for this extra meeting is the draft RFP that the engineering firm, Conestoga-Rovers, is preparing for consideration by both Chatsworth and Georgian Bluffs.
As I understand it, the idea is to rent or lease the Bio-Digester to an individual or company that knows how to operate it and that has suitable material (such as waste from green bins) for disposal. Taking over the operation would presumably be more economic for the individual or company, depending on how many “strings” are attached to it by the two townships.
Presumably, the draft being worked on by Conestoga-Rovers will be publicly available before the meeting.
June 20, 2015 – Landfill Information: I sent a letter to CAO Will Moore yesterday following his June 8, 2015 response to my FOI request a month earlier. Click here for my letter. I don’t have time at the moment to post the reports that Mr. Moore provided, but I will post them within the next couple of days under the Landfill tab.
June 16, 2015 – The Conestoga Rovers Draft report on the Bio-Digester, to be presented to the Council at 1:00 pm tomorrow, was posted on the Chatsworth website late this afternoon. I have created a link to the report under the Council Meetings tab.
June 15, 2015 – You will find the Agenda and all of the supporting documents for the regular Council meeting starting at 9:30 am on Wednesday, June 17 under the Council Meetings tab.
Note: There is a presentation by the consulting firm (Conestoga Rovers) about the Bio-Digester beginning at 1:00 pm. Apparently the report or presentation is not yet available.
June 10, 2015 – Where Things Stand at the Moment A reader sent an email yesterday, asking for a ‘Readers Digest’ summary of where I thought things are heading given the virtual “radio silence” for more than the last two months. The reader also asked for a brief summary of costs to date. The following is a slightly-edited version of the response I sent earlier today:
As I understand it (not exactly the same as the Readers’ Digest version because I am connecting snippets of information provided after numerous in camera meetings by the Joint Board and by the two Councils separately), an engineering consulting firm has been retained with the goal of preparing and then overseeing a process whereby the Townships would rent or lease the Bio-Digester to a company that would operate it and presumably use it for disposal of suitable materials.
I don’t know specifically what the ‘suitable materials’ might be, but I think that all of this came about because one or possibly two separately companies independently approached the Townships about some sort of arrangement along these lines. I expect that some fresh air and sunshine will be allowed into the process in due course so the people who are stuck with the bills can find out what is going on – and the sooner the better as far as I am concerned. The consulting firm is Conestoga Rovers from Kitchener-Waterloo which gives me some comfort, given that the Townships are in so far over their heads.
I do have financial data. It has taken huge amounts of time to track things down to the extent that I have but even so, I am sure that there is lots more to be revealed; however, I’m not certain as to the value of that, for now at least. If you have browsed much on my blog, you will have found many, many loose ends that I haven’t tied up, one of which is a summary report on cost and value received/services provided to date.
Dealing with the latter first, the REAL value received/services provided to both Townships combined is roughly zero – close to 95% of the input over the last 4 years has been from the Sunset Strip which produces mainly grey water which was previously taken to the lagoon and disposed of safely and economically there. The Bio-Digester was under-capitalised from the start, built on a long list of rosy assumptions that almost anybody could have seen were grossly unrealistic right out of the starting gate. As it stands, the Bio-Digester has neither the receiving nor the storage facilities to accept and deal with the volumes of residential septage that would have resulted from by-laws in the Townships that would have compelled the companies that pump septic tanks to dump there.
On the cost side of the equation, each of the Townships spent roughly $1 million at the outset. Net annual costs (AFTER taking into account revenues from tipping fees and hydro generation) have been in the order of $250,000 – $300,000 for EACH Township, for a total probably in excess of $2 million each which is a travesty – a whole lot of money for a whole lot of nothing! In my opinion, the Audit Reports are deceptive because they invariably show the Bio-Digester as being close to breaking even. This is because the auditor goes along with the fantasy that “revenue” includes money requisitioned from the Townships to keep the lights on.
Yours truly, etc …
June 10, 2015 – Yesterday, Chatsworth resident Ray Hunt sent an email to the Mayor and Council dealing in general with Chatsworth’s ineffectual representation at the Joint Management Board (words in italics are mine, not Mr. Hunt’s). The specific issue in the email is the ongoing subsidies of the Sunset Strip built into the Agreement with Georgian Bluffs, whereby Chatsworth is equally responsible with Georgian Bluffs for the transportation and disposal of septage from the Sunset Strip.
You will find Mr. Hunt’s letter under the Bio-Digester tab (click on Sunset Strip Subsidies).
June 8, 2015 – I’m back and have some catching up to do. I’ve started with the upcoming evening meeting of Chatsworth Council this coming Wednesday (click here for the Bare Agenda). You will find the Agenda with links to the supporting documents under the Council Meetings tab.
June 1, 2015 – I am in Calgary for family-related reasons, and don’t have the software on my el cheapo old netbook to break apart the package for the regular Council meeting on June 3 that was posted this morning.
Even though I am returning on Tuesday afternoon, I may not get the package broken apart in time for the meeting on Wednesday, but I’ll do it for posterity, even if that ends up being after the meeting.
Sorry for any inconvenience.
May 19, 2015 – The package for the regular Council meeting tomorrow is now available under the Council Meetings tab.
May 14, 2014 – The Bio-Digester Joint Board is going to meet tomorrow morning at 8:00 am. You will find the Agenda with links to all of the supporting documents under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab. I will prepare and post a report on the meeting as soon as I can.
May 12, 2014 – Click on the Bio-Digester tab, and then click on Hiding the Costs to find how much the Bio-Digester cost in 2014, with some other comments. Read it and weep!
May 11, 2015 (7:30 am) – The Council package for the second meeting of the month (scheduled for this coming Wednesday evening) is available. I have broken it apart and posted it in the usual format.
I guess I wasn’t really surprised at the lack of information about the Sullivan landfill site in the Council package for the April 29, 2015 meeting. Agenda item 9.2 was titled “Waste Site Information Training Session”, but the only information provided in advance had to do with a meeting with Grey Highlands. The information provided to the Chatsworth Council (and, indirectly, Chatsworth residents) was the Agenda for a meeting that had taken place two weeks earlier. As you will see, nothing more is provided in this week’s Agenda package.
It became clear to me that the entire Chatsworth Council (not just the Mayor and the CAO) and the residents of Chatsworth are going to need to know the FULL STORY about what has been going on behind the scenes between Chatsworth and Georgian Bluffs with regard to the Sullivan landfill site before any further decisions are taken. Therefore, I filed another Freedom of Information request on May 7, 2015. You will find it under the LANDFILL tab.
May 5, 2015 – Here is how local taxpayer Ray Hunt summarizes his analysis of the proposed 2015 budget in a letter to the Mayor and Council:
“It would be fair to say that things are out of control.”
You can read the entire letter by clicking here (new window will open).
May 4, 2015 – The Agenda and supporting documents for the May 6, 2015 Council meeting are now posted under the Council Meetings tab. Note especially Finance Report FIN 05-15 which shows spending up by 10% and taxes up by 4%.
May 2, 2015 – Check out my email to CAO Moore under the Landfill tab. Note especially the first paragraph of the email about calling in the Province.
April 29, 2015 – All has been quiet on this front for the last couple of weeks, but some things are going on behind the scenes. Georgian Bluffs has another closed meeting today (Agenda). Note that the purpose includes “a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the Municipality or local board” which was among the reasons used for the closed Bio-Digester meeting and the closed portion of the Chatsworth Council meeting on April 15. Cross your fingers that all of this is heading towards getting rid of the Bio-Digester.
There is a Chatsworth Committee Meeting and Training Session tonight beginning at 7:00 pm. I have posted the information made available in advance in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: A Public Meeting has been called for Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 9:30 am for the 2015 Township Budget and the Water Budget. The 2015 Draft Budget figures are included with the supporting documents for the April 29 meeting that I just posted. It is convenient that the document also includes actual figures for 2013 and 2014.
I invite loyal readers to do your own analyses of Chatsworth’s budget in advance of the May 6th meeting based on the document posted for today’s meeting. If you provide a copy of your analysis to me, I’ll post it. However, I retain the right to edit (mainly, I’ll leave out the bad words LOL).
April 15, 2015 – New information posted under Landfill tab, hopefully for discussion at today’s Council meeting. Am I especially suspicious this morning, or does it look like information is being withheld from taxpayers AND from Councillors?!
Also, note that there is yet another Closed meeting of the Bio-Digester Joint Board scheduled for this coming Friday, April 17. I’ve added a new page for April 13 and April 17 under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
April 13, 2015 – The Agenda and supporting documents for the Chatsworth Council meeting on Wednesday, April 15 at 9:30 am are now available under the Council Meetings tab.
April 7, 2015 – The Agenda and supporting documents for the Chatsworth Council meeting on Wednesday April 8 at 7:00 pm are posted under the Council Meetings tab.
April 2, 2015 – Finally, I’ve written and posted my report on the March 27, 2015 Joint meeting. Sorry for the delay. You will find my report under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab. In terms of astounding developments, it turned out to be one of those incredible two-for-the-price-of-one deals!
March 30, 2015 – You will find the Agenda for the Chatsworth Council meeting at 9:30 am on Wednesday April 1, 2015 under the Council Meetings tab, with links to all of the supporting documents.
I attended the Joint Management Board meeting for the Bio-Digester on Friday. I’ll post my report on that meeting tomorrow or Wednesday.
March 26, 2015 – The Agenda for the Bio-Digester Joint Board meeting at 8:00 am on March 27, 2015 is posted under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab. I have also posted all of the supporting documents (linked to the Agenda).
The meeting should prove to be interesting given that the Chatsworth Council sent back the draft budget back to Georgian Bluffs with the Sunset Strip tipping fee subsidy removed. This requires no change to the Agreement which says that the subsidized rate may be changed, or not, at the sole discretion of Georgian Bluffs.
As usual, I plan to attend the meeting and will post my own report on it within a couple of days thereafter.
March 16, 2015 – I have broken apart the Agenda package for the Chatsworth Council meeting on Wednesday March 18 at 9:30 am and posted all of the supporting documents under the Council Meetings tab in the usual format. Note that the package includes the proposed 2015 budget.
It was interesting to note that the Georgian Bluffs Environmental Committee met today, but they blocked access to the information package on the website (logging in is required). I wonder if the fact that the Chatsworth Council sent the proposed 2015 Bio-digester budget back to Georgian Bluffs with the Sunset Strip subsidies removed had anything to do with that?
March 9, 2015 – As at 5:20 pm, the Agenda and attachments for the Council meeting on Wednesday March 11 at 7:00 pm are now posted under the Council Meetings tab.
March 3, 2015 (second post) – You will now find my Report on the February 27, 2015 Joint Management Board meeting under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab along with the Agenda and attachments for that meeting.
March 3, 2015 – Public Participation at Council Meetings
I sent an email to CAO/Clerk Moore on this subject at about 9:30 this morning (to read the email, click on Council Meetings). I know that I promised readers that I would have my report on the Feb 27 Joint Board Meeting posted by now, but I gave priority to this email because it may not be worth my time to attend tomorrow’s discussion of the Bio-Digester if I will be able to do nothing more than simply sit and watch the meeting. I’ll post any reply I get. In the meantime, I’ll get back to the report now …
March 2, 2015 (2:30 pm) – Agendas for the Planning Committee meeting at 9:00 am and the Regular Council meeting at 9:30 am on March 4, 2015 are now posted, with all supporting documents, under the Council Meetings tab.
NOTE: The Bio-Digester is on the Agenda for the March 4 Council meeting. The February 2, 2011 Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding are part of the Agenda Package, so it should be an interesting meeting. One of the items to be discussed is the proposed 2015 Bio-Digester budget; two options were tabled by Georgian Bluffs at the Joint Management Board meeting last Friday morning (Feb 27). This subject is covered in my report on that meeting (that I will post tomorrow morning, March 3).
March 2, 2015 – Last week, I said I would post a report on the February 27th Joint Management Board meeting for the Bio-Digester. The report isn’t finished yet (instead of working over the weekend, I took advantage of the nice weather). I’ll do my best to post it later today or tomorrow morning.
There is also an upcoming Chatsworth Council meeting on Wednesday. I will break apart the agenda package after it is available sometime this morning, and post it as usual. Why Chatsworth and other townships post everything in one large pdf file is beyond me – it takes MORE WORK to put the whole thing together than it would to do it the way I do it on this blog. A couple of months ago, I offered to provide a little help in this regard, but I haven’t pushed it because CAO/Clerk Moore doesn’t seem to have either the time or the interest.
Feb 26, 2015 – There have been discussions between Chatsworth and Georgian Bluffs about changes to the funding of the Bio-Digester. For a short report to the Chatsworth Council on this, please go to the Bio-digester Meetings tab and click on the sub-item Feb 27, 2015 where you will also find other information about the Joint Board meeting tomorrow.
Feb 25, 2015 (Second Post) – I see that there is a Bio-Digester Joint Management Board meeting at 8:00 am on Friday morning, February 27. Meetings are at the Georgian Bluffs office. The Agenda and supporting documents are posted under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
Feb 25, 2015 – This morning, I sent an email to CAO/Clerk Will Moore that with some follow-up questions related to landfill (click on Landfill Aspects tab).
Feb 23, 2015 (Second Post) – At its meeting on February 18, Council approved draft Terms of Reference for an independent engineering and financial assessment of the Bio-Digester. Click on So … What Needs to be Done? under the Bio-Digester tab for what little more information is available.
Feb 23, 2015 – Eight months ago, Georgian Bluffs Council was apparently told that Chatsworth has taken subsidies to the businesses on the Sunset Strip “off the table!” Today, I wrote to CAO/Clerk Will Moore about this, asking how it came about and also asking what the present Chatsworth Council thinks about continuing to shovel about $85,000 per year into the coffers of Georgian Bluffs for the benefit of certain businesses on the Sunset Strip.
For all the gory details, please click on Sunset Strip Subsidies under the Bio-Digester tab.
Feb 18, 2015 (Second Post) – I received a copy of this email from Chatsworth resident J. R. Hunt early this afternoon (I have his permission to post it). I am putting it here on my Home Page because it goes to the heart of the problem in Chatsworth as I saw it a year ago and which was why I felt that I had to start this blog in the first place. Although I have seen some improvements since then, it is obvious that lots more needs to be done.
To Mayor Pringle, Deputy Mayor Mackey, Councillors Gamble, Greig & Thompson and CAO Moore
I have been following the biodigester and landfill information on “Shining Light on Chatsworth” for some time. As a matter of fact, I am the reader that supplied Mr. Falk with the Georgian Bluff’s engineering report dated September 4, 2009.
May I first point out that it is mystifying that one must learn what is going on in your municipality from someone’s blog rather than from elected officials. Although you were elected to manage Chatsworth, you don’t own it and further, it is your responsibility to the ratepayers that they are informed of major things going on by you and not a blog. The biodigester has had a major impact on our taxes without your comment and an explanation.
The information posted on the blog this morning is astounding if all is true. So I suggest that it is time to repudiate, clarify or add to Mr. Falk’s information. This should be done with a short update on the Chatsworth website in two days. This should also be followed with a total update report in one week’s time on the website with also a mailing to all ratepayers. This report should contain every piece of information regarding the biodigester including costs and also a full report on the implied landfill agreements and direction.
I do have one question. Have we given Georgian Bluffs the five year notice of termination of the agreement yet?
Thanks for your time,
J. R. Hunt
Feb 18, 2015 (First Post) – see Landfill Aspects tab for hot-off-the press information about Georgian Bluffs’ plans for the Sullivan Landfill Site. As inconceivable as it may seem, Chatsworth is apparently not involved with work that appears to be going on right now towards a jointly-developed, jointly-operated landfill site! This is absolutely astonishing!
The Bio-Digester Agreement was prepared in secret, the result of which was that Chatsworth taxpayers ended up with half of the bill for transporting and treating septage from the Sunset Strip. What delights can Chatsworth taxpayers expect from a secret Sullivan Landfill deal? Will we soon start paying for half of all landfill costs for Georgian Bluffs, too?
Feb 17, 2015 – The Agenda package for the Feb 18, 2015 regular Council meeting is now posted under the Council Meetings tab. There is also a Planning Committee meeting that begins half an hour before the Council meeting.
Note: Draft Terms of Reference for the much-needed and long-overdue engineering assessment of the Bio-Digester will be considered by the Council (Agenda Item 10.1).
Feb 13, 2015 – This morning, I posted a little more about the Gamsby Mannerow engineering report under the Landfill tab, including a copy of my email to Will Moore sent on Monday, February 9 (to which I have not yet received a reply).
Feb 9, 2015 – The Agenda package for the Regular Council meeting on February 11 was posted about 11:00 am; four pages were added to the supporting documents around 12:15 pm. I have broken the package apart, including the extra pages, and posted the supporting documents under the Council Meetings tab.
** IMPORTANT ** NOTE: A visitor to this blog has sent me a consultants’ report from September 2009 on landfill that was done for the Township of Georgian Bluffs. More on this later this week, but for now, all I will do is post it under the Landfill tab, and all I will say is that it answers a question or two, but it raises even more.
Feb 2, 2015 – The Agenda package for the Council meeting on February 4 was posted late today (around 3:30 I think). Here is the Bare Agenda. You can download the whole thing from the Chatsworth website, of course (it is 3.5 MB and 75 pages).
The package is now broken into its constituent parts and posted in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
Note that the two reports that I had asked to be included as information items were not included in the package. For the convenience of followers who didn’t check this blog over the weekend, here is the January 30 report that provides information to the Council about options for treating and disposing of septage in a much more economical way than the Bio-Digester.
Here is the February 1 report that I prepared in response to a question that arose after I posted the first report. The second report shows that Chatsworth taxpayers contributed an average of $85,000 per year in 2012 and 2013 to the cost of transporting, treating and disposing of septage from the Sunset Strip.
Feb 1, 2015 – I have posted an update on landfill to close the circle. The summary (under the Landfill tab) is much the same as that contained in my January 12, 2015 report to the Chatsworth Council.
Feb 1, 2015 – A question arose out of my report to the Council dated January 30. Consequently, I prepared a short Supplementary Report with today’s date that quantifies Chatsworth’s subsidies to the Sunset Strip. You will find a link to this extra report (which is only a little more than one page plus a one-page table) under “So … What Needs to be Done” which is under the Bio-Digester tab.
Jan 30, 2015 – Report to the Chatsworth Council: Finding the Best Way to Treat and Dispose of Septage in Chatsworth
The report I referred to yesterday is now in the electronic in-baskets of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Councillors and CAO/Clerk Will Moore. There are a few comments and a link to the new report under “So … What Needs to be Done” which is under the Bio-Digester tab.
Jan 29, 2015 – Just so readers don’t think I’m sitting under a palm tree … I’ve spent a fair bit of time over the last several days working on another report to the Chatsworth Council. I was prompted to do this by a) questions and discussion when I presented my previous report at the January 14 Council meeting, and b) the budget information for the January 9th meeting of the Joint Board (that was cancelled).
The new report is not quite ready to post, but I am aiming to do so in the next day or two. Please check back. BTW, I have no idea yet when the next Joint Board meeting will be held.
Jan 19, 2015 – The Agenda packages for the Planning Meeting on January 21, 2015 (9:00 am) and the Council meeting immediately following (9:30 am) are posted under the Council Meetings tab.
Jan 15, 2015 – Presentation to Council yesterday evening
I thought the presentation and ensuing discussion went well (about 25 minutes in total). I used the Executive Summary to guide my comments (a wee bit over 10 minutes) which the Councillors and staff all seem to have read; it seemed as well that they had all at least skimmed through the main presentation and appendices.
The full package covers a lot of ground, so I wouldn’t expect anybody to understand it all completely with just a once-through reading. In this regard, I offered to come back to a Council meeting for further discussion if they wish.
When I arrived at the meeting, Council was at Agenda Item 11.3 (Bio-Digester Budget); the sense that I got was that they were more-or-less of one mind on the need to avoid spending more money than absolutely necessary which, if correct, is a good sign.
This was not a “decision-making” item for the meeting, so I don’t know to what extent the Council will act on the recommendations contained in the report. Given my sense of the “mood” of the meeting, however, I am hopeful.
Jan 14, 2015 (12:30 pm): I have just completed and posted the Executive Summary of my report on the Bio-Digester. My apologies for the fuzzy graph, but readers can still figure it out. The larger version in the full report is clearer – you can find it under the Council Meetings – Jan 14, 2015 tab. The graph shows that the difference between where we were supposed to be and where we are is about negative $2 million ($1 million for each of the townships).
Jan 14, 2015 – Note updates to the Agenda attachments posted about 10:30 am. Items added are at Agenda Item 10.1 – Options for Water Rates, and at Agenda Item 11.1 – Three reports on roads and traffic.
Jan 13, 2015 – A number of people have asked if the Agenda for the January 14 Council meeting is correct, because it shows the start of the meeting at 3:00 pm and that my report will be presented and discussed beginning at 7:30 pm. This is correct.
My understanding is that Council meetings have been taking longer than in the past, so starting the “evening” meeting sooner may have been for the purpose of increasing the chance of finishing the meeting before it gets too late.
I am working today on an Executive Summary of my report for the meeting tomorrow evening.
Jan 12, 2015 – Agenda Package for January 14 Council meeting – You will find the Agenda and supporting documents in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab. Note that this meeting starts at 3:00 pm in the afternoon.
I have asked for and been granted an opportunity to address the Council at this meeting about the conclusions of my Freedom of Information requests. There is a link to my report on the January 14 Council meeting page. Autographed copies will be for sale at the meeting hahahahaha. I am scheduled to present it at 7:30 pm. I requested 10 minutes to cover the “highlights” and suggested another 10 minutes for discussion and questions by the Council, but that is up to the Council. You will find some surprising things in the report — feedback is welcome and would be appreciated.
Jan 9, 2015 – The Bio-Digester meeting scheduled for today was cancelled on account of the weather. No new date has yet been set.
Jan 8, 2015 – NOTICE: The review of Fees and Charges and Water Rates at the Council meeting yesterday evidently resulted in some changes which must be presented at a public meeting. If you check the Chatsworth website today, you’ll see that public meetings have been called for Wednesday January 21 at 9:30 am.
Jan 8, 2015 – The Agenda package for the Chatsworth – Georgian Bluffs Joint Management Board meeting on January 9, 2015 is available. You’ll find it under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
Jan 5, 2015 – Update on subsidies to the Sunset Strip (click on the Biodigester – Subsidies tab), summarized below:
The charge (tipping fee) at the Bio-Digester for septage from businesses on the Sunset Strip is $8.05 per cubic metre. It is being claimed that, in 2013, this fee was high enough to cover the costs and make a profit of a little more than $20,000.
If this is true, then it must also be true that all of the costs at the Bio-Digester in 2013 must have been created by the other septage treated that year (just 325 cubic metres); this works out to about $1,608 per cubic metre.
The reality is that the actual cost of dealing with Sunset Strip septage was much higher than $8.05 per cubic metre in 2013, and that the cost of dealing with the small amount of other septage that year was much less than $1,608 per cubic metre.
According to the Agreement, Chatsworth and Georgian Bluffs each bear half of the difference between the actual cost and the fee of $8.05 per cubic metre charged to Sunset Strip businesses.
I have no objection to Georgian Bluffs subsidizing the Sunset Strip, but it is unacceptable for Chatsworth taxpayers to contribute to that particular cause. I have calculated the subsidies by Chatsworth to be about $100,000 per year. To learn more, and to see how I arrived at the $100,000 figure, see the September 18 posting at the bottom of the Biodigester – Subsidies page.
At the All Candidates meeting in October, Mayor Pringle said that the 2015 increase in OPP costs would be about $100,000 and that this was a “serious challenge” for Chatsworth. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
Jan 5, 2015 – Agenda Package for January 7 Council meeting – You will find the Agenda and supporting documents in the usual format under the Council Meetings tab.
Dec 29, 2014 – Minutes of All Previous Bio-Digester Meetings
I found out about the Joint Committee meeting scheduled for May 24, 2013 on the day before that meeting because the Agenda had not been posted. When I made inquiries that morning, I was inadvertently sent the ENTIRE Agenda Package, not just the “bare Agenda” as had been done in the past (and which is usually less than two pages because it is nothing more than a list of topics).
Although it is not recorded in the minutes of the May 24, 2013 meeting, the Joint Committee agreed that, in future, the entire Agenda Package would be posted two days in advance of the meeting in accordance with what was then the practise of Georgian Bluffs for Council meetings. At that time, Chatsworth posted only the bare Agenda for Council meetings, so it would appear that the Joint Committee had adopted the practise of Chatsworth, not Georgian Bluffs.
There were problems about notice for the July 14, 2014 meeting (no notice was ever posted by either Chatsworth or Georgian Bluffs) and for the meeting on December 19, 2014 (there was no notice posted until the end of the day on the December 18). When the subject was raised at the meeting on December 19, 2014 it was agreed that the Agenda Packages and the Minutes would be posted on the Bio-Grid website in future.
In case of any problems with this, and for the convenience of anyone seeking “one stop” information about the Bio-Digester, I thought it would be a good idea to have the information available in a single location. Therefore, I took a little time yesterday to download all the previous minutes, along with Agenda packages since May 24, 2014.
Before the end of the day today, the minutes of all previous meetings will be posted under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab.
Dec 29, 2014 – Engineering reports on recommended changes
This morning, I have posted three documents prepared by the consulting engineer that describe changes required to address problems experienced. To see these reports, together with brief comments from me, click on the Bio-Digester tab, and then go to the sub-tab titled Freedom of Information Requests.
Dec 24, 2014 – Clarification about Chatsworth’s representatives on the Joint Management Board
With Scott Mackey having been elected as Deputy Mayor, he and Mayor Bob Pringle are now Chatsworth’s representatives on the Bio-Digester Joint Management Board. This is in accordance with the Agreement with Georgian Bluffs dated February 2, 2011 (a copy of which you can find under the Bio-Digester tab on this blog). When referring to the Joint Board on this blog, I will be clear as to whether any comments or criticisms apply to the former (initial) Chatsworth representatives (Mayor Pringle and former Deputy Mayor Terry McKay) or the present representatives (Mayor Pringle and Deputy Mayor Mackey). I apologize for any confusion.
Dec 22, 2014 – Rationale for reporting on Joint Biodigester meetings
I initially posted the following explanation on December 20, but under the Bio-Digester Meetings tab that I created that day. I decided to put the explanation here on my home page as well to draw attention to my opinion that lack of information about the bio-digester from its inception to the present, especially at the Chatsworth Council table, has been and remains a big part of the problem. (I have never said that the bio-digester is a bad idea – but the jury is out, in my opinion, on whether it was ever the best way to deal with septage and whether it is in fact practicable. But there can be no doubt that the implementation of the idea has left something to be desired, so to speak. Part of the problem for this, in turn, has to do with lack of openness.)
The Mayor and Deputy-Mayor of Chatsworth and Georgian Bluffs constitute the Joint Board that has the overall responsibility for the Bio-Digester. The CAO/Clerk of each municipality usually attends the meetings of the Joint Board. Staff support is mainly provided by Georgian Bluffs, and the meetings are usually held in the Georgian Bluffs Council chamber.
Operation is in accordance with an Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding that are both dated February 2, 2011. These documents were not only not made available, but it took some detective work to figure out that they even exist. Having discovered them, I have made them available on this blog – click on the Bio-Digester tab, and then go to the sub-tab titled Agreements. They should be on the Chatsworth website, of course, but … …
In following developments related to bio-digester for the last two years, I quickly realized that the Chatsworth representatives (Mayor Pringle, former Deputy Mayor MacKay and, usually, CAO/Clerk Will Moore) made little or no effort to keep residents and taxpayers informed. Gradually, I saw things that made me suspect that the actual situation could be worse than this: Was it possible that our representatives to the Joint Board did not bother to keep the Chatsworth Council informed, either?
If so, this would effectively put three out of five of our elected representatives in a position of not being able to provide informed input or make informed decisions when it came time for the Council to deal with issues or questions related to the bio-digester.
My reason for suspecting this is that no issues of substance related to the bio-digester were ever raised at Chatsworth Council meetings (except at budget time) until I began stirring the pot. In my view, this is a serious problem. I will expand on it when I summarize the results of my Freedom of Information request in the next few weeks.
For each Joint Board meeting, I will post the Agenda package as soon as practicable after obtaining it, in the same format as I do for Chatsworth Council meetings. In addition, I will prepare a report on the meeting as soon as possible afterwards for the purpose of informing Chatsworth residents (and also the three Councillors who aren’t members of the Joint Board) about what I consider to be the significant items discussed at the meeting. Each meeting with have a separate sub-tab.
It is important for readers to understand that these reports will reflect my understanding as an observer because there is only one opportunity (toward the end of each meeting) for anyone to ask questions, and there is usually a time limit of a few minutes.
Dec 20, 2014 – New tab added along with my own report on the joint Chatsworth / Georgian Bluffs meeting on December 19. To read some introductory information, first click on Bio-digester Meetings tab. After that, then click on the Dec 19, 2014 tab underneath for my report.
Dec 19, 2014 – Last night about 6:00 pm I stumbled across the notice of a Joint Bio-Digester meeting this morning at 8:00 am at the Georgian Bluffs office. I say “stumbled across” because it wasn’t posted early yesterday morning when I checked, so it was done sometime during the day. As of 6:45 am this morning, it still wasn’t on the BioGrid website. To save faithful readers the trouble, it’s under the Bio-Digester tab on the Chatsworth website (3.8 MB), but you can also find it on the GB website now. I will post a report on the meeting on the weekend.
In the package, you’ll find the draft minutes of the last meeting (July 14). The minutes show that this was the meeting at which they discussed strategies about a by-law. Don’t be deceived when you read those minutes, however, when you see that nobody from the public made any representations. The reason, of course, is that there was no public notice at all about that meeting. A few days after, when I found out about it, I called Mayor Pringle who said that this was an oversight. I guess it was an oversight in Georgian Bluffs, too, which is a very strange coincidence indeed.
Dec 15, 2014 – The Council package for the Dec 17, 2014 meeting is now available on the Chatsworth website. It isn’t so big this time (a little less than 4 MB) but even so, I have separated it into its components so you can review the Agenda and any or all of the individual supporting documents (click on the Council Agenda Packages tab).
Dec 8, 2014 – It is just past high noon, and I have now posted the Agenda and supporting information for the evening meeting of the Chatsworth Council on Dec 10, 2014.
Note: I sincerely hope that, before finalizing the Procedural By-Law (Agenda Item #10), the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Councilors and the CAO-Clerk read, think about and discuss the comments by Andre Marin, Ontario’s Ombudsman in the article provided as the fourth information item for this meeting. In explaining why he believes Bill 8 to be necessary, Mr. Marin says: “There is no excuse for paternalistic politicians who take the attitude “we know what’s best for you,” or inscrutable, secretive bureaucracies.”
Dec 2, 2014 – Minutes of Public Meetings regarding the Bio-Digester held on July 16 and July 23, 2014 (click on Operations under the Bio-digester tab)
Dec 1, 2014 – The Agenda Package for the Inaugural Meeting of Council at 10:00 am on Wednesday, December 3 was posted late this morning. You can download the whole thing in its typical unfriendly format (8.5 MB, about 250 pages) from the Chatsworth website, OR you can review the Agenda and any or all of the individual supporting documents by clicking the Council Agenda Packages tab, above.
Nov 27, 2014 – Meetings with Septage Haulers (click on Freedom of Information Requests under the Bio-digester tab)
Nov 26, 2014 – Approvals and Construction (click on Freedom of Information Requests under the Bio-digester tab)
Nov 25, 2014 – Letting Taxpayers in on the Plans (click on Freedom of Information Requests under the Bio-digester tab)
Nov 24, 2014 – This week, I intend to continue (and hopefully finish) posting the documents from my Freedom of Information requests. I’ll follow that by preparing a short (two pages or so) report that summarizes my understanding of the history of the biodigester.
Nov 19, 2014 – Design meetings in the spring and summer of 2009, including Chatsworth Council resolution 155/2009 containing a principle that the eventual Agreement between Chatsworth and Georgian Bluffs didn’t incorporate (click on Freedom of Information Requests under the Bio-digester tab)
Nov 17, 2014 – The information package for the Council meeting on Wednesday, November 19 was posted this morning, taken down for a while and then re-posted around 1:30 pm with a small revision.
If you want to download the whole package, you can do so at the Chatsworth website, but it’s 4 MB so that will take a fair bit of time for those who don’t have access to high-speed internet. If you want to peruse the Agenda and just download a couple of the supporting documents, please click on the Council Agenda Packages tab of this blog.
When I was speaking with CAO/Clerk Will Moore last week, I thanked him for agreeing to post the whole kit and caboodle in advance of every meeting like all of the other municipalities in Grey County. I then commented on the irony in what the municipalities do: on the one hand, they are working at the County level to improve access to high speed internet; on the other hand, every municipality in the County provides agenda packages in a very user-unfriendly format that effectively requires high speed.
During our conversation, Mr. Moore noted that the size of the separate components could also be noted if the packages were broken up. I took this to be an indication that Mr. Moore has been thinking about this; hopefully this will result in Chatsworth setting a new and higher standard for information packages in the other municipalities, too, first by breaking the advance packages apart, and second by adding the size of each component. This is a great idea, so you will see that I have done that this time around, too (under the Council Agenda Packages tab).
Nov 15, 2014 – A little bit of catch up regarding early expenditures (2006 and 2007) (click on Freedom of Information Requests under the Biodigester tab)
Nov 14, 2014 – Copies of the May 9, 2009 Build Canada application posted along with supporting documents and a little bit of commentary (click on Freedom of Information Requests under the Biodigester tab).
Nov 13, 2014 – I spent much of Wednesday, Oct 29 reviewing documents at the Georgian Bluffs office. CAO/Clerk Murray Hackett suggested this approach in response to my FOI request dated October 7, 2014 that was aimed at “filling the gaps” in the documents provided by Chatsworth. I have posted the list of documents I reviewed that day, along with a “closure letter” to Mr. Hackett (click on Freedom of Information Requests under the Biodigester tab).
After having been tied up with other things for the last two weeks, I now intend to resume my chronological review of the documents I obtained from Chatsworth CAO/Clerk Will Moore. As before, I will provide brief comments based on my understanding of each document, but in all cases I will post the documents for the benefit of those who may wish to delve deeper.
Oct 29, 2014 – FULL AGENDA PACKAGES POSTED ON CHATSWORTH WEBSITE
I was met with a very pleasant surprise when I checked the Chatsworth website this morning. The following note appears on the Agenda page:
Effective October 29, 2014 the Township will make its meeting agenda packages available. The package, which is the same one that Council receives, includes the meeting agenda and all related reports/documents.
This is a big step forward for which somebody is to be thanked and congratulated, but I don’t know who as of yet because I thought that this would be a subject for consideration by the Council as a whole.
In my view, providing an Agenda with links to supporting documents (like I have done on this blog) is a much more user friendly way of providing this information than in one huge download, but presumably that is an administrative matter that can be dealt with in due course.
Oct 27, 2014 – Agenda and supporting information for Council meeting on Oct 29 (Council Agenda package tab)
Oct 27, 2014 – Policy Statement about septage by Ministry of the Environment, 2005 for background (click on Freedom of Information Requests under the Bio-Digester tab)
Oct 26, 2014 – FOI request to Chatsworth turned up a single one-page document about landfill (click on tab titled Landfill Considerations)
Oct 25, 2014 – Progress towards an independent study (update under the Biodigester tab – So … What Needs to be Done?)
Oct 22, 2014 – Sticky Pages in Agenda package for Oct 15 (update provided under the Council Agenda Packages tab)
Oct 22, 2014 – Letter to the Editor (text as submitted is posted under About This Blog tab)
Oct 14, 2014 – Supporting information for Council meeting on October 15 (Council Agendas tab)
Oct 14, 2014 – Biodigester “Gestation” Period: FOI documents from mid-2007 to mid-2008 (under the Bio-Digester tab)
Oct 13, 2014 – More documents posted with some comments (FOI under the Bio-Digester tab)
Oct 12, 2014 – the next document: Anaerobic Treatment of Septage/Biosolids to Produce Biogas, Electrical Power and Treated Biosolids, Henderson Paddon & Associates, June 2006 (FOI under the Bio-Digester tab)
Oct 11, 2014 – 2004 Grey County septage report continued, with questions about heavy metals and pharmaceuticals (FOI under the Bio-Digester tab)
Oct 10, 2014 – Another letter about lack of neutrality at the All-Candidates meeting (under Election tab)
Oct 10, 2014 – List of FOI Documents and Overview of 2004 Grey County septage report (FOI under the Bio-Digester tab)
Oct 9, 2014 – Freedom of Information request to Georgian Bluffs filed Oct 7, 2014 (FOI under the Bio-Digester tab)
Oct 8, 2014 – Apparent lack of neutrality at All-Candidates meeting at Williamsford (under Election tab)