With dire biodigester details now released, what to do?

 

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OPINION

With the status report and its initial findings of a detailed review of all things biodigester now public, Grimsby council is left with precious little in terms of options and will not be able to make a silk purse from this sow’s ear.

The financial water is very deep, but the scope, depth and extensive operating losses are much larger than even the most pessimistic in Town could have foretold – to say nothing of horrible business practices.

Financial liabilities in excess of $15 million.

ALL the proceeds from the $9 million sale of its 25 per cent in shares in NRBN (a fibre optics company) gone! Revenue from the sale was all shifted from one hydro holding to another to float biodigester costs.

In total, $9.7 million was “borrowed” by Grimsby Energy from the utility’s other hydro companies. “This amount will never be repaid”.

The road map to how the Town and its hydro company has arrived at this place has been painstakingly laid out time and again in these pages with absolutely no effect on the previous council, which continued to work in the absolute opposite direction to how any democratically elected body should work – namely, in the best interests of those who elected them.

Stonewalling information, ignoring pleas from the one councillor, Dave Kadwell, who continually pushed for a public accounting of this ridiculous endeavour, and providing half truths (at the very best) when cornered as a result of consealed information coming to light…this was the recipe for disaster.

And make no mistake, this is a disaster of epic proportion for a municipality the size of Grimsby.

The question is not who is responsible. That is clear. The management board of Grimsby Energy, which oversaw the biodigester – up to Dec. 3 of last year was Shaffee Bacchus, Sean Straughan, Bob Bentley, Carolyn Mullins and Steve Berry. The board of Holdco2 was Bacchus, Bentley, Mullins, Berry and Michelle Seaborn.

The question is, are or can these people be made accountable for the near-bankrupt state of Grimsby Energy?

The mismanagement of this project was staggeringly inept from horrible tracking of financials to equipment being leased that was never used. All should pity this new council for the job they face, but they are attacking it quickly and correctly. Godspeed. M.W.

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