About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Plastic Garbage Bags out in 2012

As of 2012, you won't be able to put your recyclable and organic compost in plastic bags anymore. The move was approved by council last night in order to comply with a provincial mandate to stop the collection of organic waste in plastic bags, as well as being a component of the new Organic Waste Processing Facility.

It's interesting to gage reaction to this news because a lot of it sounds like the criticism of Wet/Dry when it was first introduced: the expense, the inconvenience, the burden. People were just genuinely abrasive towards the idea that we could no longer cram all our garbage into a big black bag, put it on the curb and forget about it. Now, all those years later, the Wet/Dry program is just a thing we do. It became a model for other municipalities and anyone that still complains about it is like the guy that refuses to give up his telegraph machine for the internet.

Check out the press release here.

GUELPH, ON, August 31, 2010 – Guelph’s curbside waste collection system will begin collecting waste in carts instead of bags for household organics, recyclables and waste in 2012. The carts, once collected, will be emptied into new waste collection trucks with the use of an automatic arm.

Council made the decision to switch to carts at last night’s City Council meeting in order to comply with a condition of the new Organic Waste Processing Facility’s (OWPF) Certificate of Approval (C of A) issued by Ministry of the Environment (MOE). The condition requires the City to no longer collect organic waste in bags, including compostable plastic bags.

“Ensuring the new organics facility complies with MOE regulations is a top priority,” said Dean Wyman, Manager of Solid Waste Resources. “Converting to a cart-based collection system will mean less waste in the landfill, which everyone in Guelph can be proud of.”

Conversion will be phased in over a three year period, starting in 2012, to help manage the costs of the conversion.

The City has also been approved for a $1.3M Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF) grant from Waste Diversion Ontario which it will use to cover a portion of the capital costs of converting the Dry (recyclables) stream to a cart-based system.

The City considered several alternatives to waste collection methods that require bags. One included converting the organics stream alone to carts which would require investing in retrofitting the City’s collection fleet. In the end Council approved the conversion of all three streams—wet, dry and waste—which requires new automated trucks to collect the carts.

Council’s decision is supported by a third party peer review conducted by BMA Management Consulting Inc. which concluded the most cost efficient option over the long-term is converting to the fully automated cart collection system.

This method of collection is regarded as an industry best practice and many Ontario municipalities have similar systems in place. Guelph’s new system will increase waste diversion, create operational efficiencies, and brings with it the following benefits: more frequent and convenient yard waste pick up; less waste sent to landfill; and a reduction in the City’s carbon footprint because four fewer collection trucks will be required.

About the new Organic Waste Processing Facility (OWPF)
Guelph's new state of the art OWPF is scheduled to begin operating in fall 2011 and will be located at the Waste Resource Innovation Centre, 110 Dunlop Drive. This Facility will process Guelph’s wet waste stream (organic waste) into clean, organic compost. The OWPF is expected to increase Guelph's diversion rate by 10 per cent.

Easier Battery Disposal Today

The City of Guelph is apparently pleased to announce that you can dispose of your batteries at seven conveniently located spots across the city in our local libraries and city hall. Here's the details in this press release.

GUELPH, ON, August 30, 2010 – There are seven new locations across the city where residents can drop off their used batteries for free recycling, starting today.

All six Guelph Public Library branches and City Hall have bins in place to collect single use, rechargeable, button cell, 9V and lithium batteries for recycling.

"Making responsible disposal of used batteries even easier to access will encourage greater participation in this recycling program" said Heather Connell, the City’s Program Development Supervisor at Solid Waste Resources.

The City will also continue to collect used batteries at the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Depot, located at the Waste Resource Innovation Centre at 110 Dunlop Drive. For hours of operation, visit guelph.ca/wetdry.

Last year a total of 8,909 kilograms of alkaline and rechargeable batteries were recycled through the HHW Depot.

This initiative will increase waste diversion and is aligned with the recommendations of the Solid Waste Management Master Plan, published in 2008.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fuzzy Math

Well, the month's almost over, which means that we can soon get back to the normal business of riding the bus in an effecient and timely manner: 20 minute runs, Sunday service, making your transfers, the whole shabang.

But before that, there's one final bit of curiosity that occured to me. Every bus stop in town has a schedule and map with the approximent times that the bus is supposed to arrive at that stop, as well as the Next Stop code in case you want the "real time" arrival of the bus. Well, by the time the buses go back to the 20 minute plus Sunday schedule after Labour Day, those slips of paper will have been changed three times in the last four months.

So here's where the fuzzy math comes in: How much did it cost to print all those new schedules, and how much does it cost in man power and equipment to go around the city and change them all in short order with each schedule change? I bear no illusions that the cost of this extra work would be equal to or greater than the amount spent on a Sunday's worth of transit service, but still the cost must be nothing to sneeze at.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Trustee On Board

This is a story about Jennifer Waterston. Who's Jennifer Waterston? Well, she's the first person to put her name down on the ballot for the Upper Grand District School Board, running for one of two seats for Wards 2, 3 and 4.

Other than that, and the addition of Ward 6 Councillor Christine Billings to the ballot, it's been pretty quiet this August. Usually after I say that though, things change, and a bunch of people start crowding the ballot. Still, time is running out. Nominations close on September 10th. For more info and the complete ballot thus far check out this website.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sandals Gets Rare Support

An article in the Guelph Mercury today examined an unusual bit of bipartisanship:

Progressive Conservative MPP Peter Shurman suggested [Liz] Sandals missed getting a cabinet position in favour of less-experienced politicians during Wednesday’s cabinet shuffle.

“Liz Sandals, who has been an MPP for seven years, was once again passed over for cabinet by MPPs elected less than one year ago,” the Thornhill MPP wrote in a press release.

Sandals holds the position of parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, but I suppose it's always nice to be affirmed by others, especially in the esteemed opposition, that you've got potential to be more than a parliamentary assistant.

That wasn't all Shurman had to say about the cabinet shuffle. On CTV.ca, Shurman is quoted as saying that instead of overhauling his cabinet, Premier Dalton McGuinty opted for "cosmetic changes that won't provide any relief for taxpayers" with the creation of new ministers. "What he's doing for Ontario is acting like a speeding train -- going in the wrong direction," Shurman said. "And the two new faces represent an additional opportunity to tax and spend."

Still, one appreciates Shurman's sentiment, but you have to wonder what the idea behind it was. I know it seems unusual in modern politics for people to do things out of the goodness of their own heart, but maybe Shurman's just looking out for a colleague. “Liz Sandals has been toiling away ... for a very long time,” Shurman said in a telephone interview with the Mercury Thursday. “She can take the compliment. Maybe she would have been a better choice.”

Nothing like bipartisan support. Weird.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bob Bell no longer Green

In a bit of surprise election news, though not in the election we expected, Bob Bell has officially stepped down as the Green Party candidate for Guelph in the next federal election. Bell's reason is that he believes that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will call a spring election, which will conflict with the busiest time in Bell's bicycle-trailer manufacturing company.

“My business is seasonal — busy in spring and slow in fall,” Bell told the Guelph Mercury. “Originally it appeared as though we’d have a fall election and I was ready for that. But now an election is likely in the spring, and that’s not good timing for me.”

Bell continued to say that while the responsibilities of being a federal candidate were minimum outside of an election period, the 40-60 hour per week commitment would be too much for him in the event of a spring election.

As for Bell's other job, the one that he's got to run for again in a few months anyway, Bell's still not sure if he's going to have another go at city council. “Some days I’m going to run again; some days I’m not. I just don’t know right now,” he said.

In an interesting side note, Bell's runner-up for the Green Party nomination was Russell Ott, is now running for Ward 1 city councillor, one of two seats currently held by Bell. As for the Greens, Bell expects a new nominee to be named before year's end, probably in the fall.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What About Bob?

So it happened Monday. Ward 6 Councillor Christine Billings joined ward-mate Karl Wettstein in the race to get re-elected to her seat on the horseshoe. So that means that all the incumbents on council, save one, have declared one way or another, with only Kathleen Farrelly refraining from running again.

But what of Farrelly's fellow Ward 1 councillor Bob Bell? In the most competitive race in the whole darn election, he's the only incumbent to not say either way whether he's in or not, and time is running out. Of course, the flip side is that wards 3 through 6 are running challenge less so far. Time is running out there for people to throw their hats in the ring. Can a flood of last minute candidates be in the offing?

Nominations for mayor, city council, and school boards close on September 10th.

Also in Jobs News...

...but more like on a (very) temporary full-time basis, the City is look for people to work on election Day October 25th to help administer the whole darn thing. I worked as a Deputy Returns Officer during the 2003 Provincial Election and I have to say it was a lot of fun. Of course, I'm a crazy politico and I find that sort of thing fun, but still, it's not bad for a full day's work and couple of hours training. Here's the info:

If you are interested in working the 2010 Municipal Election, attend an open house to learn more about the positions available, responsibilities and how to apply.

Municipal Election Recruitment Open House
August 16

City Hall, 1 Carden Street, Meeting Room 112

* 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
* 12 to 2 p.m.

* 4 to 6 p.m.

Requirements of all election workers

*must be a minimum of 18 years of age

*cannot be a candidate/spouse of a candidate

*must be available October 25, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (actual hours of work may vary)

* previous election experience is an asset Available positions

*Deputy Returning Officers manage and operate a voting location. Must have a valid driver’s licence and a use of a vehicle. Must be able to carry items that weigh up to 30 lbs. Rate of pay $165*/day.

*Tabulator Officials operate a vote tabulator and are responsible for accepting and feeding ballots into the tabulator. Must have a valid driver’s licence and use of a vehicle. Rate of pay $155*/day.

*Election Assistants facilitate the voting process and assist with setting up, opening and closing a voting location. Rate of pay $135*/day.

*Revision Officers assist with revisions to the Voters List. Rate of pay $125*/day.

*Greeters assist voters at the door, provide direction and assist with setting up and closing a voting location. Rate of pay $110/day.

*The rate of pay includes your attendance at a 1-2 hour mandatory training session.

For more information
Marilyn Schmidt
City Clerk’s Office

T: 519 822-1260 x 2468
E: marilyn.schmidt[at]guelph[dot]ca

New Jobs Coming to Guelph

Big news today in Guelph as a well-known and accomplished Chinese manufacturer of solar modules is moving to town to set up a shop. This is good news for the 300-500 jobs that will be put on the block for Guelphites, as well as fulfilling the promise of bring more green jobs to the city, which has been a heavily campaigned topic in recent elections. To the press release:

GUELPH, ON, August 11, 2010 – Canadian Solar Inc., the world’s eighth largest solar module company, announced today it will establish a solar module manufacturing facility in Guelph, bringing 300 to 500 jobs to the city. The facility will be one of the largest on the continent.

"Today’s announcement by Canadian Solar Inc. means hundreds of good jobs for Guelph,” said Mayor Karen Farbridge at this morning’s announcement at 545 Speedvale Ave in Guelph, future home of Canadian Solar’s facility. “It shows early success of the City’s economic development plan, Prosperity 2020, and represents the number one objective of the Community Energy Initiative, which is to position Guelph as a place to invest.”

City officials and Canadian Solar executives are attributing today’s announcement in large part to Guelph’s Community Energy Initiative—Guelph’s ambitious and internationally recognized plan to use less energy in 25 years than it does today, consume less energy per capita than comparable Canadian cities, and produce less greenhouse gas per capita than the current global average.

With cities around the world watching Guelph’s innovative model of reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, today’s announcement is a strong example of the Community Energy Initiative in action; government, business, investors, and citizens working together to build sustainable communities as a way to address the most serious ecological challenge of our time: climate change.

“We chose Ontario and Guelph because of the province’s and city’s strong research and development, and the local and provincial governments’ commitment to investing in a low carbon economy,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman, President and CEO of Canadian Solar Inc. “The site selection for the new facility spread across Ontario, but in the end Guelph was chosen over several major cities as a result of its commitment to making sustainability the hallmark of the community through the Community Energy Initiative.”

Since the adoption of the Plan on which Guelph’s Community Energy Initiative was based, the Province of Ontario has implemented the Green Energy Act, helping to spawn a very active solar energy market.

“Guelph is another example of Ontario’s success in attracting clean energy investment and jobs,” said Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. “Canadian Solar’s decision to locate its first North American manufacturing plant in Guelph is a great vote of confidence in the city, the province, and the Green Energy Act.”

Guelph MPP Liz Sandals added, “Canadian Solar’s announcement of a new solar panel manufacturing facility in Guelph demonstrates the success of Ontario’s Green Energy Act in generating new investments in solar energy. And, the creation of hundreds of new jobs begins Guelph’s transformation to a new green economy."

Canadian Solar Inc.’s Guelph facility is valued at about $24 million, with the first phase of operations expected to begin later this year. At full capacity the facility’s total output will generate solar-based power that exceeds the entire current electrical demand of the Guelph community. The Guelph facility will be Canadian Solar Inc.’s first outside of China.

Additionally, Organic Meadow and Steen’s Dairy opened a new facility in Guelph today. Carol Mitchell, Ontario Minister of Agrculture, Food and Rural Affairs was in attendance along with many of the farmers who supply the dairy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

More 2010 Election Moves

With the holiday weekend winding down it seems like a good time to take stock again of the 2010 Municipal Election. Here's the ballot as it stands so far:

WARD 1 - By far, it's the most competitive with a total of eight announced candidates running so far, and I have it on good authority that there may be a ninth later this week. That's almost the total number of candidates running in all the other wards combined, and the remaining incumbent, Bob Bell, has still yet to announce.

WARD 2 - Andrew Colwill, who also ran in the last municipal election (finishing sixth at seven per cent of the vote), threw his hat back into the ring last week. The number of ward 2 candidates stands at four.

WARD 3 and 6 - Remains unchanged, with incumbents Maggie Laidlaw and June Hofland re-upping for re-election in Ward 3 and Karl Wettstein doing the same in Ward 6. His ward mate, Christine Billings, told me earlier this summer that she usually waits late to announce.

WARD 4 - Gloria Kovach announced her intention to run again on July 15th, and Mike Salisbury followed suit on July 26th.

WARD 5 - Both Leanne Piper and Lise Burcher are now officially in the race.

MAYOR - This race is still limited to Karen Farbridge and David Birtwistle