Bio-Digester

November 23, 2015

On November 16, 2015, Chatsworth resident Ray Hunt sent the following email that was titled “Closed Meetings.”

Mayor Pringle, Deputy Mayor Mackey, Councillor Gamble, Councillor Greig, Councillor Thompson & CAO Moore

By reading Trevor Falk’s blog and attending a few meetings, I have followed the biodigester developments with great interest. What has been notable, in my opinion, is the Joint Committees apparent disregard of the Municipal Act regarding closed meetings and further, without objection from committee members. I have written to you before on this in April but have not seen any change.

The Joint Committee has used “Security of the property” as reasons for closed meetings. Now I find that Chatsworth Council has now used this same reason for a closed meeting on November 4th and we know too from the published agenda that this is also regarding the biodigester.

May I bring to your attention the following from The Sunshine Law Handbook.

“Security of the property” – s. 239(2)(a)

“Includes: • Discussions relating to protection of property from physical loss or damage and the protection of public safety in relation to this property.

Does not include: • Matters relating to the financial interests of the municipality • Discussions of strategy with respect to municipal infrastructure or growth • Discussions regarding strategy with regard to municipal property.”

Security of the property? I don’t think so.

One of the goals of the revised Municipal Act and the new Sunshine Law Handbook is to promote more openness and transparency in municipal government. Please follow the rules.

Let’s review the biodigester year so far. Chatsworth passed a motion to end the unfair Sunset Strip subsidies. Georgian Bluffs slapped this down but we’re still trying. Bob DeJong got involved, left for a while and now is back. Conestoga Rovers was contracted, then dismissed and now may be coming back. SusGlobal did not score high enough to proceed further but is now the only company the Joint Board is dealing with for solutions. One Councillor now has a conflict of interest. There were many closed meetings. As Council remains silent, Trevor’s blog is still the main source of information. And we continue losing lots of money. 

Regards,

Ray Hunt

 

September 18, 2014

The bio-digester is jointly owned by the Township of Chatsworth and the neighbouring Township of Georgian Bluffs. It is located in Georgian Bluffs, at the site of the sewage lagoon.

The “official” bio-digester website is here. On that site, you will find Joint Management Board Agendas and Minutes under the tab titled “News and Events.” The Agendas for 2014 include all supporting information tabled at the meetings.

There is no supporting information attached to the Minutes from the meetings in 2013, and no Agendas, Minutes or supporting information from the first two years of operation.

There is little else of interest or value to the people who pay the bills on the “official” bio-digester website. You won’t find anything about costs, efficiency, operating results or operational problems except what may be buried in Minutes or the 2014 Agenda packages. I invite you to come back to my blog for that sort of information.

As for the “Education” tab, Randy Taylor, who lives near the bio-digester, dissected the five “myths” in a letter that is posted on The Hub (you can read Randy’s letter here). More on that later.

There was much fanfare about the bio-digester at first – this (undated) press release that was issued in early November, 2010. This press release, from four years ago, is the last “official” word Chatsworth residents have received.

If you continue reading this blog, you’ll figure out why our Leaders (by this term, I mean Mayor Bob Pringle, Deputy Mayor Terry McKay and CAO/Clerk Will Moore) have been silent for 4 years. This is not to justify their silence, but helps understand it.

The bio-digester was forecast to cost each township about $106,000 per year to treat every drop of septage in both townships. We were told that it would produce net revenues (“profit”) for each township of upwards of $160,000 per year, and therefore pay for itself “within 10 years.”

It turns out that the figures Chatsworth residents and taxpayers were provided in 2010 were, shall we say, somewhat “optimistic.”

Instead of an annual profit of about $160,000 the annual net cost to Chatsworth has averaged more than $300,000 per year beginning in 2011. This represents a negative swing of close to half a million dollars per year. In other words, instead of making a profit for Chatsworth of close to half a million dollars from 2011 – 2013, it cost Chatsworth taxpayers almost a cool million!

The bio-digester is now the third highest expenditure item in the 2014 budget, and accounts for about half of Chatsworth’s 7% tax increase this year. And the meter keeps ticking.

I have attended almost every Joint Management Committee meeting for the bio-digester in the last two years. Based on this, and on my own research, I have created a tab for a number of general sub-topics.

At present, the titles of these tabs are subject to change but in any event, I will provide more information under each of these tabs in the not-too-distant future. Please check back here.