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July 17, 2014

Audit of the Source Separated Organics Contract (Green Bin)

Over the past week I have heard from residents regarding the recently released “Audit of Procurement Practices Related to The Source Separated Organics Contact” – in other words the contract with Orgaworld for the Green Bin Program.

I appreciate hearing everyone’s comments and I share your anger and frustration in that there were so many details not available to Councillors who were making the decisions in 2007 and 2008. Unfortunately, we cannot change the past and all we can do is move forward and learn from this to make sure the same errors are not repeated again.

It is good that the Auditor General has brought to light all the shortcomings of the process that occurred at the time this contract was entered into. That is precisely how our transparency mechanisms should work at the City of Ottawa to inform both residents and Councillors of problems. I will watch carefully to ensure that management implements all of the recommendations that are contained in the audit. This includes the Auditor General’s recommendation that the contract be re-evaluated.

Breaking the Orgaworld contract is not an option until the proper research is completed. As was learned from past experiences (cancellation of the north/south light rail, for example), cancelling contracts always comes at a cost. I do not believe that throwing more money on top of past mistakes is a good idea. We must wait for the research information to be provided, and it will be then that we will we know the true detailed cost that might be involved.

We should also not lose sight of one very important fact. The whole purpose of recycling – blue box, black box and Green Bin – is to divert garbage from our City owned landfill on Trail Road. I think all of my residents will agree that we do not want another landfill. This is something I hear from residents time and again. Nor do taxpayers want to have to pay the minimum of $250 million that a new municipal landfill would cost. Our best alternative is diversion which will significantly extend the life of the Trail Road landfill.

The best solution to this bad situation is for all of us to make more use of the green bin. If green bin use is maximized collectively and the tonnage is sent to Orgaworld, then we are in a much better position moving forward.

We joined many other cities in this move to bi-weekly garbage pick-up – places like Toronto, Guelph, Halton, Durham, Aurora, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Markham, Vaughan, Whitchurch–Stouffville in Ontario and others across the country from Halifax in the east to Surrey in British Columbia. All of these Ontario cities are also running Green Bin programs that get a weekly pick-up, with residual garbage taken bi-weekly...just like Ottawa, and just like our neighbours across the river in Gatineau.

Our long-range goal to make Ottawa a more sustainable city tomorrow than it is today must continue. That was the over-arching goal of past Councils and it remains our goal today. It is a goal that I endorse. We should be proud of our designation as Canada’s Most Sustainable City by “Corporate Knights Magazine” and we want to always be at or near the top of rankings such as this.

I want to assure residents that I and my Council colleagues will be watching carefully as management implements each and every one of the Auditor General’s recommendations arising from the Orgaworld Audit Report.

If you would like to review the full Audit Report, it can be found on www.eli.el-chantiry.ca under the “Latest News” section of the home page.

Any residents wishing to discuss this topic with me directly are free to do so by giving me a call at 613-580-2475 or sending an email to eli.el-chantiry@ottawa.ca. 
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