Photo Credit:  Niagara News Now (Undated)

Ordinary residents and Members of Council alike have been asking for months for an update to the over budget, much delayed and much reviled Biodigester project sitting up top of the mountain.

After plenty of stalling, we have all been promised an update at the next Council Meeting this coming Monday (July 17th).  Given the recent “developments’ (or a lack thereof when considering the project as a whole), we are sure it will be a well-attended meeting.

In essence, we can only see three possible avenues for the update…  a very short “feel good” update that ‘things are going well’ and they will move the goalposts of when the Bio will be operating, full transparency of the costs and the problems at the project (possible, but unlikely) or some “good news” that the Bio is now operating and finally living up to it’s promises (again possible, but highly unlikely).

Of interest in recent weeks is this “Press Release” in the GLN that discusses the processing of “biosolids” as we discussed previously in this post.  While the press release tries to fend off the idea of the Biodigester processing treated sewage, the most pivotal part of this is the terms “At the present time”.  They have even taken the task to underline it… “at the present time” doesn’t mean they will never accept biosolids, but for the immediate time it’s not part of the Biodigester “diet”.

Before the proponents try and single us and residents out for (if you pardon the pun) “making a stink” about this whole project, we invite you to read the following opinion article from Alexandra Heck from Grimsby Lincoln News, printed in a recent edition of Niagara This Week.

Wow!  You don’t need a PhD in behavioural analysis to get to see that Ms. Heck’s questions were quite unsettling for Mr. Panetta.  Strong defensive responses are usually indicative of trying to get someone away from the truth, or trying to hide truth that for the most part would be unsettling.  Kudos to Ms. Heck for asking those questions, the responses received are very tell-tale.

Even Mike Williscraft of Niagara News Now also penned this week an editorial addressing the clear lack of transparency and other questions that seem to go unanswered in regards to the Biodigester

It is to be seen whether we get a “real update” at Monday’s Council meeting or not.  But with so many people asking questions, there has to be answers forthcoming on Tuesday.  If we get some carefully crafted presentation that attempts to dodge the real questions surrounding the Biodigester, then that is a story within itself.

When you look at the big picture,  it is not just the Biodigester project that causes the public to continue to ask for transparency from Council.  Although the Ontario Ombudsman recommended “opening the door”, it seems that rather than follow through, the Town seems to continue to build “trap doors” along the way.

As Mr. Williscraft pointed out, and we reiterate it again… the big question that remains to be answered is where did the $9 million from the sale of the Town’s shares of Niagara Region Broadband Networks go?

Furthermore, what is the Town going to do about the bottomless money pit that is the CoGen – where the Town owns the turbines and all the turbine problems, but strangely, not the brick walls and roof that house them (you can find that information here in our recent Admin & Finance Committee minutes).

It has jokingly been suggested, and to be honest it may not be a bad idea at this point given the waste of what is ultimately taxpayer dollars on the CoGen already… to convert the CoGen building into an ice cream stand in the summer and  a coffee/hot chocolate stand in the winter.  Operating costs are low and potential for revenue generation is high.  However, that would probably require the Town hiring a consultant at $30,000 – $50,000 to study the feasibility of said snack bar… maybe not such a good idea with that consideration.

It should be interesting to see what transpires at Council on July 17th.  No matter if it’s a full and transparent discussion on the real issues of the Biodigester or a sham presentation on how well things have supposedly been going,  let’s hope the thermostat on the air-conditioning is turned down low as it sure will be a hot room that evening.