Garbage Non-Plan Is Garbage: BENN




Why does city council refuse to deal with refuse?

Earlier this week city council accepted the recommendation of staff to implement significant changes to when curb-side refuse will be collected, and where it will be delivered. The net effect is to add two years to the expected life of the Trail Road landfill site. Two years. Wow.

Whether the Trail Road landfill site has an expected life of 10 years, maybe 15 years, is a matter of debate. The conventionally accepted time frame from identifying a new site, to getting the necessary environmental approvals, through to constructing the various elements is the better part of a couple of decades. Are councillors actually proud of this major decision? To add two blessed years to the expected life of the dump? The mind wobbles.

Ottawa’s Climate Change Measures Mean Nothing

During his election campaign of a year ago, Mayor Mark Sutcliffe mentioned the idea of using incinerators to deal with the volume of waste product, with the additional benefit of directing the heat to the base of a tea pot. The resultant steam would spin a turbine, and presto a form of sustainable electricity is generated. Using technology that has been in place in a number of European cities for a couple of decades. Is it elegant? Not really. Is it ideologically pure? Again, not really. Is it a practical solution to two areas of municipal responsibility? Yes. Where is the city on that campaign promise Mr. Mayor?

That the process of identifying a replacement for the Trail Road landfill site was not started is water under the bridge. Just another page in the tainted legacy that former mayor Jim Watson left behind. Instead Sutcliffe studiously avoids pointing to the shortcomings of his predecessor.

In fairness, council has addressed, in a sort of manner, some difficult challenges as the first year of its term appears on the horizon. Well, sort of.

It announced a four-years-from-now sort of plan for the wheel-axle-hub assemblies on the state of the art LRT trains. Convenient how that lands in the lap of the next council.

They waved the white flag on public transit as a whole. Residents got the usual trope about not being aware of how bad OC Transpo’s financial condition was. Followed by the standard demand that more senior levels of government solve it. Some combination of more reliable funding, getting more federal employees to work downtown, and well … you get the picture. Fuzzy and out of focus as it might be.

The affordable housing crisis? According to some councillors, the possibility of 120 units at Lansdowne is sufficient reason to rush the amended zoning by-laws through council before the key business terms are under contract. That 120 units is a drop in the bucket towards solving the problem?

So, now that council has taken care of all of the more pressing business, how about some tangible progress on the future home of garbage? Tangible steps with measurable goals. Like creating a set of decision criteria by the end of 2023. If staff hasn’t already got that in a file somewhere, don’t approve their bonuses. Like creating a short list of sites, with something more reliable than a back of the envelope estimate (see Confederation Line Stage 1 for available lessons) by mid-2024.  And a decision of which site to proceed with by the end of 2024.

Ottawa’s Climate Change Measures Mean Nothing

By passing a resolution in 2023 to set aside the funds for the environmental studies in the 2025 capital budget. By passing a separate resolution in 2023 to bind the current and future councils to set aside a proportional amount of the expected cost in each successive capital budget. Just like the pension fund that each councillor contributes to. With the prize at the end being a fully paid for dump.

That is what a tangible plan looks like. Measurable goals that form a path to accomplish a tangible end product. Not elegant. But practical.

Ron Benn, a finance executive, has been a member of the Centrepointe Community Association for the better part of three decades.




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1 Response

  1. John says:

    The affordable housing crisis? By whose definition of affordability will the 120 units at Lansdowne actually address the affordable housing problem? Will they be owned or rented? If owned, does the affordable lifestyle include the kind of taxes required to make the stadium/arena cost neutral? I guess the positive side of where we are is we have a few extra weeks to try to figure out issues like this and maybe get answers before council rushes to approve 2.0. And before the audit is done?

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