As we mentioned in our previous post, it was nearly “standing room only” in the packed Council Chambers for the July 17th meeting. Thankfully Staff anticipated a large turnout so there was a stack of extra chairs on hand for those who didn’t get prime seating.
A “tip of the hat” to everyone that came out, it was nice to see such a large turnout despite it being summer and Council running on a summer start time of 6:30 PM.
You can find the Council Agenda at: https://grimsby.civicweb.net/filepro/documents?expanded=542,543,79798,1127,79902&preview=85627
And here are our notes of the meeting…
Before we get to the presentation, here is a quick recap from the Grimsby Lincoln News article by Alex Heck on June 30, 2017:
“The energy production mechanism is just beginning to run, with Panetta and his team adding it’s first batch of manure to the tanks this week.
“We’ve got all of the Technical Standards and Safety Authority,” he said, explaining that the latest delay was caused by a leak in the tanks and concerns about the concrete that was poured last year. The leaks were fixed and inspected to meet the approvals from the Transport Canada Technical Standards and Safety Authority regulations. “Every tank, every tubing has passed.”
Within the next two weeks, the anaerobic digester will be producing its first gasses, which Panetta says will have to be flared off, as they won’t be energy-producing quality.
Within a month, he says it should be producing energy.”
Now, two weeks later at the July 17 Council meeting, Shafee Bacchus, Chair of Grimsby Energy Inc. stated that the first load of manure was ready to be loaded on Wednesday, July 19 and would be subjected to 10 days of “flare” to heat and digest it at 98 degrees to produce proper gas. So… unless things went as scheduled on July 19th (read into that as you wish) it’s still not producing gas and thus not producing energy.
Other comments made in the presentation:
- Original cost $4.5M – now at $10M ($5.5M over budget, gasps from the audience).
- It will be remotely controlled by the company in Germany and monitored weekly for up to 2 years for staff to learn the system.
- There are 4 full-time staff, 1 manager and 3 employees.
- The head manager has experience with a Niagara-On-The-Lake biodigester and one employee has experience with a Hamilton biogas project.
- “OMAFRA absolutely loves ours” and “was aghast” – ours is a flagship that everyone can work from (later he referred to it as a “starship” – beam me up Scotty).
- The Tier 3 (SSO’s and biosolids) application is required to be able to charge the engine/tipping fee.
- A backup generator is in place – Mayor Bentley stated that if the main power was out in the area the plant would be shut down to ensure the safety of the workers.
- When Alderman Kadwell asked if the backup generator was in the original business plan (and cost estimate), Mr. Bacchus did not answer (and everyone noticed).
- They have a “contract in place” to plant grasses on the Niagara Region landfill next door.
- They didn’t anticipate the additional conversion costs from Euros to Canadian Dollars for the engine purchase.
- They didn’t know about the $240K non-refundable Renewable Energy Approval (REA) deposit that would have to be paid.
- Additional costs of materials ($300K) because of delays.
- They wanted to hire local contractors, but those contractors wanted to work on other projects = delays.
- Alderman Kadwell’s question “if we’re not generating funds out of electricity, how are we paying our bills? Where is that money coming from?” was vaguely answered by Mr. Bacchus by saying that “we have several subsidiaries…” (the money shell game?).
- 50,000 litres of water per day is required – when asked where it’s coming from, Mr. Panetta answered “the ponds … and we’ll receive peppers from hydroponics that are mostly 65-70% water … or, we may need to dig a well, but we’ll deal with that when we get to it” (hmm… impact on surrounding wells/water table? cost? isn’t it supposed to be “ready”?).
- What happens to the leftover residue (digestate)? Bacchus replied, “we can give it to farmers to put on their fields, if they give us say 20 tonnes of grass/twitch, we’ll exchange it for 20 tonnes of digestate (fertilizer)”– then he noted that there is no plan to sell it as it requires an analysis of the final digestate and federal licencing before it can be sold (so where will the sludge go in the meantime?).
- How many others are there in Ontario? Mayor Bentley responded there are 17, but only 2 are larger than the Grimsby project.
QUOTES TO KEEP IN MIND:
“The biodigester will prove itself.”
“It’s producing gas.”
27 John Street Tax Increment Grant Request – Presentation by Paul Borejsza, BRITE Developments
The redevelopment of this brownfield site will be similar to their current development “RISE” across the street at 39 Robinson St. 40 stacked townhomes are planned. Council members praised the developer for his vision and improvement to the site and approved his application. Future applications will be considered on an individual basis.
Recreation Master Plan and Organizational Review
The Recreation Master Plan contract, if combined with the Organizational Review, will cost approximately $125K. To do the Rec Plan and Org Review separately would cost $115K and $80K respectively. Rec staff had requested the Org Review be done separately.
Council felt it was worthwhile to do them together to capture any “overlap” of services/work and FTE usage between rec and other divisions (ie. Public Works, Planning).
Town Manager Brandt noted that it would review the “margins” of the other divisions and see if we have the “lines drawn in the right spots”. Sensitivity to staff during the process to ensure their concerns are addressed will be paramount and directors/managers will be very involved. Alderman Wilson stated that the plan is a requirement so that the Town can take advantage of grants.
The rec review will also look at the utilization of all the Town’s parks and identify any properties that may not be well used or “declining” to “determine excess property”. Remember our previous post about the possibility of selling off neighbourhood parks? Well…
Community agencies/groups who rent the Southward Park community centre will be “walked through” the new Fire Safety Evacuation Plan (220 pages) when they do the registration paperwork.
The “Do Not Drink the Water” signs are still on the taps at Southward Park. Alderman Wilson noted that he had checked with Public Works (July 17) and they “just need to do a few more checks” to make sure everything is okay…
Public Works Minutes
A little “oops” … the acoustic wall for the chiller/CoGen needs minor repair$ already … apparently they forgot the “window for access”.
Although not in the minutes, Alderman Berry mentioned the Region’s Traffic Master Plan and the identification of the Livingston Avenue extension. He commented that “it’s not my/your decision” and the whole area should be considered, get everybody’s opinion and do what’s best for the community.
The DIA had previously asked the Region to change the downtown garbage pickup day to Friday to accommodate the market waste, but was not supportive of paying the additional charge the Region wanted.
The Public Works minutes state ”The Director noted that Recreation Facilities and Culture Department will empty the waste bins on Main Street between Elm Street and Christie Street every Friday morning during the Farmer’s Market period of operation.” and, with the relocation of the market to the Peach King Centre for the next while, Alderman Berry noted that Rec Services will pick up their garbage there as well as part of their “regular Friday” pickup.
Niagara Region Memo – Inter-Municipal Transit Triple Majority – Next Steps
The IMT Steering Committee and Working Group will be formed and work towards the actions and 5-year implementation plan outlined in the Dillon (consultant’s) report.
Alderman Mullins noted that the memo states “Additionally, a $3.1M pressure has been identified in the 2018 budget ($2.6M capital, $0.5M operating) to maintain and nominally enhance the current level of IMT service. These considerations will be examined further through the 2018 budget deliberations.”
This cost will be downloaded to municipalities and we can expect the Region will be reaching out its hand for more than the approximately $250K/yr we already provide for inter-municipal transit in St. Catharines/Welland/Niagara Falls (Grimsby contributes 6.5% of the Regional levy).
Mayor Bentley noted that although inter-municipal transit to West Lincoln/Lincoln/Grimsby is identified in the Region’s 2018 budget, it’s not approved.
Alderman Mullins stated that we still have to spend more and get no benefits.
Reasons for Dissolving the Town’s Heritage Committee Report
Town Manager Brandt read the report and the motion was passed to post it on social media and the Town’s website.
Fire Update: The recent downtown fire was recently discussed and by indications, the buildings are in bad shape and will have to come down. Council thanked Grimsby Fire for their (well-deserved) dedication and efforts and to the local businesses/residents who came up to support the firefighters with food, water and other necessities.
New Fire Hall: Alderman Berry brought some good news. The new fire hall is completed on time and on budget.
Doors Open: Grimsby hosts Doors Open. on September 23rd Four sites will be open to the public – Southward Park, the Carnegie Building, the Biodigester, and the new Fire Hall.
Gateway Information Centre: Thanks to Brian Purdy, Tourism Niagara, the Region and the many volunteers at the Gateway, an agreement and 5-year lease is close to being signed.
That’s all until the August meeting!