LIVE BLOG: City Council Meeting for September 18, 2017

The first report from the first service review comes to council for discussion tonight. You can click here for the agenda from City Hall, and you can click here to read Politico’s preview of tonight’s meeting. For the complete blow-by-blow of tonight’s council meeting, you can follow me on Twitter, or follow along below via Storify.

Guelph City Council Meeting – September 18, 2017

Live blog from the meeting starting at 7 pm

  1. Settle in, tonight’s special council meeting might get interesting. We being in 15 minutes…
  2. Members of @CupeLocal241 are here. There's concern that the service review will lead to privatization.

    Members of @CupeLocal241 are here. There’s concern that the service review will lead to privatization.
  3. Members had a protest outside city hall earlier, but they had to leave their placards and signs outside the council chamber.
  4. A camera is set for an overflow room, but there’s still plenty of seats inside the council chambers.
  5. Mayor Guthrie says council is running late with their closed meeting. We’ll be another 10 minutes till start (he hopes).
  6. 18 minutes later, we’re still waiting for council to start.
  7. Closed session on material recovery facility findings: Council received info and “wholesome” discussion was had.
  8. Bob Bell sends regrets tonight, otherwise it’s a full house (of councillors).
  9. FYI: Council not being made to ask decisions tonight, no staff recommendations being made.
  10. Stewart notes that 5 out of 6 areas in solid waste are meeting or exceeding service levels compared to other area municipalities.
  11. Tomoko King, Manager Corporate Project Management Office, is now addressing council
  12. King is outlining how and why the service reviews are being done.
  13. King says they’re “learning a great deal” about the service review process. Remember, these 3 are still pilot projects for the City.
  14. A couple glitches with the live stream of #guelphcouncil meeting. Thanks for your patience
  15. Peter Busatto, General Manager of Environmental Services, is now going over the results so far.
  16. Busatto says they’re currently in the “identify and improve” stage of the review. More info on that will be coming forward later this fall.
  17. Busatto says that CUPE was engaged early and they were asked to take part in the process. Notes many CUPE members here tonite.
  18. Staff plays an important role sharing their experience, perspectives and ideas in the final phase of the review. – Busatto
  19. Dillon Consulting of Kitchener was hired to help conduct the review. Guelph was compared to 12 municipalities for the review.
  20. Guelph’s costs for drop off is on par or lower as compared to other municipalities, but the data used to reach that assumption inexact.
  21. We’re up to the big one: the Material Recovery Facility. The cost of operating the MRF is $4.86 million, revenue = $2.75M. Diff = $2.11M
  22. All but one of the comparator municipalities are making profits from their MRF, but Guelph is paying more.
  23. Now it’s time for questions from council. Cllr MacKinnon asks if the other municipality losing money on MRF is single stream?
  24. Cllr Piper asking if there’s some reason the comparator municipalities aren’t identified in the report.
  25. DCAO Stewart says none of them wanted to be identified, didn’t want to get into “trouble” back home (if there was trouble)…
  26. Cllr Billings asks if residual wastes costs includes organics. It does.
  27. DCAO Stewart says there’s a lot of detail that they haven’t compiled yet.
  28. Billings asks about “significant legislative changes” from the province, asks if staff has any follow-up.
  29. Stewart: Nothing that would be helpful to this conversation.
  30. The dilemma, says Stewart, but notes legislation may not be in effect until 2019. “It would be nice if we could give you more detail…”
  31. Cllr Salisbury asks why there isn’t 13 bars if we have 12 comparators?
  32. Not all 12 have the same service or level of service, says staff.
  33. Salisbury says that makes sense for hazardous waste, but don’t all 12 collect waste?
  34. The consultant from Dillon says some elements were not comparable. Wasn’t appropriate to compare to Guelph.
  35. Salisbury asks about rationale of choosing 5 from the list of 12.
  36. 2 for similar service, and 2-3 that have different delivery approaches. Dillon wanted a good mix to compare to, says consultant.
  37. Salisbury says he’s worried about statistical bias. The 2 math nerds following this thread can now high-5!
  38. Consultant says in the case of hazardous waste, it’s a small element of waste disposal, so they were fine with two.
  39. Salisbury asks, aren’t we here to see where we are as compared to other municipalities?
  40. DCAO Stewart notes that some municipalities have rural collection (for example) kind of pointless in the case of Guelph.
  41. Stewart promises the final report will satisfy.
  42. “We all want to sleep at night together.” – Guelph DCAO @_S_Stewart.
  43. Cllr Allt assures this is not about looking at staff downsizing, but looking for efficiencies. Concerned that report isn’t forward looking
  44. Stewart says they may have to look at other municipalities with newer equipment, and that will be part of the next phase.
  45. Stewart thinks that Guelph can influence the province if we’re able to streamline and make our own MRF operation efficient
  46. Allt asks whether Guelph sorts better than Simcoe?
  47. Stewart says he has no way to answer that tonite, will have to do more audits with Simcoe, which may or may not be an answer.
  48. Cllr Gibson says he’ll hold Qs in order to get to delegates. 2 speakers left, says mayor.
  49. Cllr Gordon asks if the environmental value was calculated.
  50. Stewart says Guelph has the benefit of having no landfill site, doubts Gordon is getting calls asking for a new landfill.
  51. Stewart says Guelph has the benefit of having no landfill site, doubts Gordon is getting calls asking for a new landfill.
  52. Cllr Downer notes that Guelph once spent $10M looking for a new landfill until the legislation changed…
  53. Stewart says watch for Feb 2018. Prov may want to change blue box program, and other changes. City should look to continuous improvement
  54. Van Hellemond asks if council can get more info on how comparators (in some cases) do more more less.
  55. Stewart says that will come forward in the later report.
  56. Now on to the first of 5 delegations. This one is Paul Clulow, president of @CupeLocal241
  57. Clulow: CUPE has a lot of experience dealing with consequences of privatization. “Not a pretty story.”
  58. Clulow: Improving the MRF has to be done with the appreciation of public services.
  59. Clulow asks council to not make decisions prematurely. Notes that Dillon said they could not compare apples to apples.
  60. Clulow just got the 30 second warning. Caught off guard by that ding.
  61. Clulow says 47 people work in the MRF, nobody wants to see those jobs move out of the community. “We want good jobs,” he says.
  62. Applause for Clulow as he wraps up presentation, urges council to take their time with a decision.
  63. Clulow says solutions will come from frontline workers, can’t get better changes from people coming in from the outside.
  64. Guthrie hates saying it, but asks the gallery not to clap.
  65. Folk-Dawson says labour in Guelph is looking to council to be leaders in keeping public employees.
  66. JFD says that the report leaves out a lot of details. If there are problems with MRF, how they be addressed in non-privatization way?
  67. No questions for Folk-Dawson, Andrew Cleary, prez of ATU 1189 up next.
  68. Cleary commends members of CUPE 241, and says we’ll try to keep all our services public.
  69. “There’s nothing more important than the team,” says Cleary.
  70. Last delegate is Ted Pritchard or the Fair Tax Campaign. (Marty Williams and Pat Fung on the list, but not here).
  71. Pritchard says he’s a taxpayer, meaning he helps employ City workers, and he wants to keep it a union shop.
  72. Guthrie suggests council get everything out in the open now so there are no regrets later.
  73. Cllr Gibson points out that regulatory changes, Guelph is already lagging by $150 per tonne on processing solid waste.
  74. Guthrie says that he passed on written submissions to staff on Friday, and asked to prepare responses for final report.
  75. Salisbury says he respects the anonymity of comparators, but would like more detail about them.
  76. Salisbury also asks to separate the single and two-stream MRFs in the completed report.
  77. Piper says #Guelph has one of the highest diversion rates in Ontario, but we may not be making $$ on stuff pulled off the line…
  78. Piper also asks when front line workers will be engaged again?
  79. Hofland points out the good news. Guelph doing well on 5 out of 6 of the areas remember?
  80. Hofland asks about timing crunch. Can this be done by November?
  81. Stewart says it has to because there have to be some considerations for the budget.
  82. Hofland follows up on Pritchard delegation: was the solid waste master plan consulted?
  83. Stewart: It was in their thoughts, but this was a service review and not a master plan review.
  84. Hofland: I’m up for any challenge.
    Guthrie: Bench press 300 lbs.
  85. Allt says we can’t avoid elephant in the room (privatization), would like that addressed in the report in “a delicate was as it can.”
  86. Billings asks if its possible to see divergent percentages from municipalities that are contracting out.
  87. Staff: volume of recyclables is increasing, but the weight is staying the same. It’s measured by weight.
  88. Divergent rate right now is 59 per cent, exact tonnage unavailable off top of staff’s head.
  89. Guthrie notes that council was told there would be a drop in diversion following switch to bins from bags. (Can’t see thru bins yo!)
  90. Guthrie says he appreciate commentary from Cleary about how service review is helping to see how city can be more efficient…
  91. …also, it’s a good point that Guelph meeting standards on 5 out of 6 areas. That came from consultant, so can’t be too suspicious of them
  92. Stewart says they’re meeting with solid waste staff on monthly basis, internal internet forums too. Staff consult is ongoing.
  93. Guthrie says there’s 3 outcomes possible: 1) we’re good, 2) good and can do better, 3) not good.
  94. Guthrie says he’s in favour of *all options* until final report comes back. Discounting one option is a disservice to gov responsibilities.


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