August 24, 2015 (9:00 am)

August 25, 2014 – Here is the bare Agenda that was posted on the Georgian Bluffs website last Thursday or Friday and available at the meeting. There were no attachments.

The August 24th meeting was billed as a “Special Meeting” for the purpose of reviewing the proposals received (note plural – proposals – I come back to this later in this report). The closure date was last Thursday, August 20, 2015.

The Georgian Bluffs representatives were in place on time, but the Chatsworth representatives (Mayor Pringle, Deputy Mayor Mackey and CAO/Clerk Moore) were not. In due course, they came out of the closed side room after evidently having a private discussion with Chatsworth resident Bob de Jong who I have referred to in previous posts. I understand that Mr. de Jong is volunteering his time and experience in the world of private capital to help the parties navigate this process.

After it was convened, the meeting went immediately into an in-camera session that included representatives of Conestogo-Rovers (but not Mr. de Jong). The Chair (Mayor Barfoot) did not state the reason or reasons for this clearly in the usual way (with a motion and vote), so neither GB resident Calvin Confer (who was sitting beside me) nor I could understand why this was necessary.

After their return, the Chair invited the representative of the company whose proposal was evidently on the table to identify which portions of the proposal were confidential; the gentleman advised that Section 4 and the drawings (which he said were contained in a separate package) were to be considered confidential.

In response to a question from Calvin Confer towards the end of the meeting, the Chair stated that only one proposal was “qualified.” Mayor Barfoot made a point of saying that he was wording his response carefully, so I assume that there may have been one or more other proposals or letters of response that were not “qualified” (whatever that means).

Of course all of this is shrouded in secrecy but it could be a huge mistake to dismiss other proposals or expressions of interest if, for example, they didn’t meet a particular technical requirement for a valid, understandable reason. It could be far better to terminate the present RFP process and start another one that responds to valid problems identified through the process itself; two months would be lost, of course, but it could work out far better for taxpayers in the long run. It isn’t clear at this point whether we will ever know.

The Chair neglected to put on the public record the name of the proponent company and the name of the individuals representing the company who were in attendance. I subsequently found out that the company is SusGlobal Energy Incorporated and that the person who was invited to speak at the meeting was the company’s co-founder (Mr. Gerald P. Hamaliuk). Ross Slaughter, who is well known to the Joint Board, was seated next to Mr. Hamaliuk.

Shortly after Mr. Hamaliuk said what portions of the proposal should be kept confidential, Chatsworth Deputy Mayor Mackey asked about making the remainder of the proposal public. This was immediately shot down by the Chair; Chatsworth Mayor Pringle said nothing. I circled back to this near the end of the meeting, to no avail. To be clear, it was not a decision of the Joint Board to keep the proposal confidential even though the company was OK with releasing it (except for Section 4 and the drawings); rather, this was a “decree” by the Chair.

Amazingly, there were no general questions or discussion about the content of the SusGlobal proposal. There was one brief exchange involving Deputy Mayor Mackey with regard to what I assume were assumptions in the proposal that both townships would be passing by-laws making it mandatory for septic waste to be taken to the bio-digester, and that the tipping fee would be $25 per cubic metre. It was stated that “Chatsworth would not be passing such a by-law,” although it seemed that there might be some flexibility on this, depending on the tipping fee (Deputy Mayor Mackey mentioned $10 per cubic metre). Mr. Hamaliuk stated that the proposal could be modified to accommodate the lack of compulsory use by Chatsworth, and different tipping fees than assumed in the proposal, but with some sort of monetary adjustment.

The conclusion of the meeting was that a “staff report” would be prepared in advance of a meeting scheduled for Friday, September 11, 2015 at 9:00 am. It was clear that Conestogo-Rovers will be helping with this; I hope Mr. de Jong is invited to help, too.

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