CORNWALL, Ontario – The future of waste management in the City of Cornwall was left in question after the Council meeting on Jan. 14.
Council voted to defer accepting administration’s suggested tender for new waste collection service until their meeting on Jan. 28.
The tender was tied to a report presented to Council at the same meeting that advocated two different options. The first option would be to keep things as they are, the second advocated bag limits, disallowing the pick-up of bulky items except on special days and a move towards mandatory recycling.
Despite presenting these two possible options to council for them to decide on at a later date, administration’s tender that was also on the agenda at that meeting suggested that council award a contract based on option two.
Administration suggested awarding the $24 million, seven-year, waste collection contract to Environmental 360 Solutions Inc. out of Pickering ON, this was despite Cornwall’s current service provider, HGC Management Inc. based in Brantford, ON having a lower bid price.
The current contract expires on March 31, and if Council refuses administration’s suggestion to award the tender to Environmental 360 Solutions, then the city may find itself without waste collection services and also in legal hot water.
“If we don’t go along with the process, then there is legal exposure for the corporation,” said CAO Maureen Adams.
Administration argued that Environmental 360 Solutions best fit the City’s 2011 Waste Management Plan and its vision for the future.
John St. Marseille, Cornwall’s General Manager for Infrastructure and Municipal Works explained that administration’s goals were to increase the marketability of recycled items and to reduce cost, primarily by saving landfill space.
“Every cubic meter of landfill capacity is worth thousands of dollars for the City,” he said.
Councillor Carilyne Hébert claimed that the cost of a new landfill when the current site is full would be around $50 million.
To that end, administration claimed that Environmental 360 Solutions edged out HGC in the bid because they better fit this vision, including having split trucks that would allow for the collection of recyclables and waste in one vehicle. Additionally, St. Marseille claimed that Environmental 360 Solutions offered a public relations and complaints service.
“Their proposal did include quite a large customer service plan,” said Danielle Watson the City’s Waste Management Supervisor.
The comprehensiveness of the winning proposal was emphasized by administration.
“Specifically, it was a very comprehensive proposal. The senior team has 365 years combined experience in waste management,” said St. Marseille who explained that Environmental 360 Solutions also presented them with a comprehensive transition plan.
Herb Lambacher, owner of HGC said that he did not understand why administration was going with a more expensive option especially after his long relationship with the City of Cornwall. HGC has been collecting waste and recycling in Cornwall for 28 years.
Lambacher addressed some of the points administration raised as to why they preferred Environmental 360 Solutions.
“We can meet the requirements set out by the City,” he said. “There is no advantage I can see in using different trucks. I specifically asked if they wanted split trucks. If they had said so, then I would have included it.”
Lambacher also addressed the claim that Environmental 360 Solutions could edge them out in customer service.
“In the document they said they (the City) were providing a customer service system so if they had their own, why would I cost one,” Lambacher asked.
HGC employs 30 people in Cornwall and Lambacher said he would have to lay them off if HGC loses this contract.
According to John St. Marseille, Environmental 360 Solutions plans on hiring 36 new employees if they win the tender, but they have not committed to hiring any staff from HGC.
HGC employee Hollis Priddle said that he was glad that the Council voted to defer their decision.
“I think that they need more information on what’s going on,” he said. “We have the lowest bid. Our company can and will meet municipal requirements.”
Priddle said he was concerned because he and other HGC employees are unionized, but Environmental 360 Solutions has no union.
Councillors felt that they were being asked to make this decision too fast without enough information.
“I’m not comfortable with people losing their jobs,” said Councillor Syd Gardiner.
“As of 4:30 p.m. tonight I received an email from the DBIA about things I didn’t even consider asking,” said Councillor Eric Bergeron who moved for the deferral. “I would like to make the decision two weeks from now.”
Ultimately, Council voted 7-4 in favour of deferring a final decision on this $24 million contract until Jan. 28.