OPINION: It will get worse before it gets better

biodigester Aug aeriel
When people are making major life decisions – are we ready to sell our family home and down-size or do I take that job in Alberta and move my family out there – nobody wants to be rushed or pressured.

Major decisions, although it can be frustrating, take time.

Grimsby Council has been under the gun from the outset due to a grocery list of reasons which will not be relived here. The electorate was hopeful this new bunch to create a new and vital direction which had eluded the previously elected councils in recent years.

Many have been waiting, toes tapping all the while, to see what these new whipper snappers will do (noting Dave Kadwell and John Dunstall as the only members not new to this council, with Jeff Jordan’s previous experience noted).

Six of the nine around the table are brand spanking new. Yes, they show it, and some of it has been hard to watch.

Nobody should be concerned about growing pains, though, given what the alternative was….and don’t forget that.

The two major issues which have weighed down, slowed down and stuttered the movement on a host of initiatives in the Town have been the chief administrative officer hiring search and wading through reams of information regarding the biodigester debacle.

The hiring committee did the heavy lifting to get things down to a short list of two what I am sure would be two stellar candidates and the Grimsby Energy Board – Delight Davoli, Jim Howden, Lianne Vardy, Jim Bowman  and Rob Hattin (who are all working for free) have done more than their share on the bio research and assessment as they attempt to keep the thing moving.

Most councils, let alone new ones, may have only one major issue which demands intensive commitment and typically any council would have senior staff and/or councillors to help lead through the muck.

Grimsby really does not.

Timing and circumstance have worked against them in many respects, so I do give them a lot of rope as they try to figure things out.

Monday was one major step as they agreed, in a 7-2 recorded vote, to proceed with a civil action regarding the management and dealings surrounding the biodigester project.

All general community hostility aside, and it needs to be set aside, this could not have been an easy decision. Even the most hardened character would not take litigation lightly. It is a very serious matter and I would hope council weighed the facts of the situation, allowed the opinions of experts to permeate their collective brains and made their best, informed decision.

That is all one can ask.

It is very, very easy to fall into the camp of those who are simply out for a pound of flesh as some sort of compensation for seeing millions of taxpayers dollars frittered away – including a major asset of the Town in its fibre optics company sold off for a fraction of its value with proceeds poured into floating the biodigester.

The problems were extensive, obvious and compounding over a long period of time. Whether that constitutes some sort of negligence in the eyes of a court will be up to a judge and/or jury to decide.

As noted in the space previously, that is how it should be if there is a case to pursue.

If memory serves, it was the Mayor’s Breakfast in the Fall of 2016 when Rob Hattin showed up with a detailed spread sheet outlining the project would lose about $1 million per year. Team Biodigester laughed at the notion, quite literally.

Nobody is laughing now or since.

And it should be noted, Hattin’s numbers – conducted purely by researching the performance of other bio operations as nary a shovel had hit the ground in Grimsby at that point – were just shy of reality.

And as this news sinks in, I recall the late Michael Rozender, whom this community owes a great debt and will never realize it, wrote a letter to the council of the day and this publication imploring a suspension of the project – not a halt – simply to have an independent business case done to determine the viability of moving forward.

That fell on deaf ears and the project pushed on.

There were many chances to right the wrongs that were happening. None were taken. Maybe litigation is the only way to allow the community to heal.

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