Joint Meetings in 2014

This page edited on December 29, 2014

Agenda Packages and Minutes of Meetings in 2014

January 24, 2014 Agenda Package (3,622 KB), Minutes (85 KB)
April 28, 2014 Agenda Package (1,414 KB), Minutes (132 KB)
May 28, 2014 special Joint Meeting (both Councils) Agenda Package (1,147 KB), Minutes (71 KB)
July 14, 2014 [no public notice was given of this meeting] Agenda Package (4,112 KB), Minutes (extracted from Dec 19, 2014 Agenda Package)
December 19, 2014 Agenda Package (3,786 KB), Minutes (extracted from Jan 9, 2015 Agenda Package)

Report on meeting of the Bio-Digester Joint Board on December 19, 2014 (added Dec 20, 2014)

The Agenda (96 KB) was adopted. The minutes of the July 14, 2014 meeting (648 KB) were approved without amendment. In the question period at the end of the meeting, I suggested that the July 14 minutes should contain a prominent note on the first page to the effect that there was no advance notice to the public of that meeting; this had the effect of making it an “in camera” meeting contrary to provisions of the Municipal Act.

We’ll see what comes of that suggestion, but I’m not holding my breath. The Joint Board did agree that in future, notices should be posted on the bio-digester website.

The letter dated October 17, 2014 from Mr. R. Chappell (44 KB) arose out of his meeting on October 2, 2014 with the mayors who have been trying for well over a year to meet with the Minister. At the end of the Chatsworth All Candidates meeting that same day, Mayor Pringle was permitted, inappropriately (see Election tab), to attempt to diffuse concerns about the bio-digester among Chatsworth residents by making a grand announcement about a break-through that very morning for new participation in the bio-digester by the Ministry of the Environment. He stated explicitly that the township cannot continue without such support.

As reported in the Sun Times, Mayor Barfoot evidently spoke more definitively about the outcome of the October 2 meeting with Mr. Chappell.

All has been silent on that front for almost three months but there is no reason that the letter from Mr. Chappell should not have been provided as an information item for the Chatsworth Council meeting on October 29. This is yet another example of important or potentially important bio-digester information not being shared with Council or with the public by Chatsworth’s representatives on the Joint Board.

In any event, having heard Mayor Pringle at the All Candidates meeting and later having read the article in the Sun Times, I shook my head in disbelief when I read the October 17 letter. At the end of the Dec 19 Joint Board meeting, therefore, I sought (and obtained) confirmation that this letter reflects the discussion at the meeting on October 2. In my opinion, interpreting a letter such as this, dated more than two weeks after the meeting, as being an indication of some sort of game-changing involvement or participation on the part of the province approaches being delusional.

Discussion about items listed in the Action Item report (94 KB) and the Report from the Treasurer (71 KB) indicated serious problems and confusion. Briefly …

… the operator needs to clear the screens manually after virtually every load of septage is dumped. Confusion and financial discrepancies have arisen because Chatsworth Council decided to not charge a tipping fee but Georgian Bluffs has not made a similar change. Some haulers are apparently resisting paying the appropriate tipping fee for certain high-energy loads containing fats, oils and greases that are required by the bio-digester for the simple reason that human-based septage does not contain sufficient residual energy to produce much electricity. To make matters worse, there are other bio-digesters that evidently “compete” for this kind of waste.

… the Joint Board was informed that there are sometimes significant mismatches (in the order of 20%) between the volume measured flowing out of a truck and that same volume flowing into the receiving facility. There are significant differences in the “quality” of loads dumped which make it difficult or impossible to establish a link to appropriate tipping fees. The possibility of linking tipping fees to distance hauled and “quality” was discussed; haulers might be willing to pay a certain amount per cubic metre for dumping a load of “high quality” septage sourced nearby, but they would want a much reduced fee for bringing the same load from a considerable distance.

These are all real problems that are occurring after almost four years of operation! It is mind-boggling to think about the chaos that almost certainly would have resulted had Mayor Pringle succeeded in what seemed to be his goal of ramming through a by-law in July to make it compulsory for Chatsworth residents to direct all septic waste to the bio-digester. If any such by-law had been passed at that time, it is obvious that it would have had to be rescinded by now, or that Chatsworth residents would not now be able to find anyone to pump their septic tanks.

Nothing of substance was decided by the Joint Board about any of these things; staff will bring recommendations to the next meeting.

WSP (Genivar), the former engineering consultant to the Joint Board, prepared a report on deficiencies (147 KB) as a condition related to full payment of one of their old invoices. The report does not include any estimated costs. Even so, I expect this report to be a valuable source of information for the engineering study authorized by the Chatsworth Council. Speaking of which, I found it surprising that there was no discussion at the meeting of the Joint Board about the decision by Chatsworth Council to proceed with an independent engineering study.

Discussion of the Revenue and Expense report (26 KB) touched on the appropriateness of referring to transfers from the two townships to the keep the bio-digester operating as “revenue” to then be lumped in with tipping fees received from haulers and payments from Hydro One for electricity fed into the grid. To me, there can be no other explanation for using this misleading terminology except that the Joint Board wants to avoid the use of a simple, clear, unambiguous word – subsidy. Note: this link is to the updated version of the Revenue and Expense report handed out in the meeting, not the version that was part of the Agenda package.

The Treasurer requested that the bio-digester budget for 2014 be passed as soon as possible, since the year is almost over and the townships are starting to budget for 2015. Accordingly, the Agenda package contained information in support of the 2014 Budget (922 KB). This was deferred to the next meeting.

The final significant issue that was discussed towards the end of the meeting is not clear in my mind. I think that in 2012, Georgian Bluffs provided a “float” of $150,000 to the bio-digester account, half of which was made on behalf of Chatsworth. I’m guessing that this was arranged before the two townships finally came to a realistic understanding of the financial picture, so the idea may have been for Georgian Bluffs to simply retain $75,000 from Chatsworth’s share of the “profits.” Since there have never been any “profits,” and since it isn’t likely that there ever will be any profits, I think Georgian Bluffs would like Chatsworth to pay up. This item, too, was deferred.

After the meeting, I sent an email to CAO/Clerk Will Moore, asking where I could find the $75,000 figure in the most recent Audit.

The draft Georgian Bluffs septage by-law (648 KB) that was in the meeting package was not discussed.

The next meeting will be on Friday, January 9, 2015.

Trevor Falk

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