Ward 4 News

Councillor - Christine Billings

Friday Mar 23rd - 2012

I was fortunate enough on Thursday night to join several students from the Political Science program at the University of Guelph where an event was hosted by The Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee. A range of topics were discussed from youth engagement, decorum within the House of Commons and low voter turnout within younger demographics. Joining Michael Chong was Mark Sholdice from the Young Liberal Group and the youngest MP to ever be elected from Sherbrooke, Quebec Pierre-Luc Dusseault from the New Democratic Party. Elected at only 19 years old.

What struck me immediately at this event was the instant respect that Michael showed all people in the room, including his colleague from across the isle in opposition to his government. When the opening statements were made, Pierre-Luc went first saying "Michael Chong is a great example of what someone should be like in politics. He wants to reform question period and to make changes that will make our government better".

When the question was posed about low voter turnout, Michael explained that Stats Can has released information indicating that the lowest voter turnout is between the ages of 18-34. And why is that? 30% said they weren't interested and that their vote wouldn't make a difference. Another 23% said they were just too busy. Michael offered his observations that "parliament should reflect our diversity more". He stated that "parliament is too controlled by leaders which create a sense that local representatives can't properly represent their constituents". "Restoring autonomy to how local representatives can have a real voice at parliament is vital". He also blamed increasing negative advertising, the current political culture and hyper partisanship that "confuses voters to the point of not being able to determine who's right and who's wrong".

Potential solutions to address the "I'm too busy to vote crowd" were to look at Australia. However, Michael was not in favour of mandatory voting where an individual would be fined if they didn't vote, but rather making voting day a national holiday. "Voting day becomes a family outing. He said. "With everything closed down, there is nothing more to do other then to vote". Part of Australia's high voter turnout of above 90% is due to this holiday. He agreed that the business community will cry foul about this option due to productivity ceasing, but countered that "our democracy should be more important to allow one day off every 4 years".

Michael also talked about the controlling nature of government. He advocates for more free votes and taking away the fear of repercussions and disciplinary measures imposed by party leaders if MP's don't vote the way they're told to. "Parliament sits 27 weeks a year with about 5 votes a week. Only 15 votes out of 135 are free votes".

Lastly, he encouraged those in attendance to get involved with the political process. "Too often, many get involved in other ways that don't directly impact decision makers. He said. "40% of every dollar is used by government and the remaining 60% is influenced in someway through policy. If you want to make a difference, get involved."

While driving home from the event, I couldn't help but look at what's wrong with politicians today. I came to several conclusions. Politicians should radiate respect for others when they walk into a room. They should identify and understand the problems faced by those they represent; they should provide thoughtful solutions after listening to those in need. Politicians need to engage in respectful dialogue to find common ground for the greater good. And, they should feel free to truly represent those that elect them.

Michael embodies these traits and Canada is fortunate to have someone like him making a difference for us all. We need to support other like-minded politicians that push for these positive changes.

Many years ago there was an old Nike advertising and marketing campaign that became a pop-culture phenomenon. It stated "Be Like Mike". I for one can't think of anyone else who inspires me like Michael Chong does. I too want to "Be Like Mike".

Cam Guthrie

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Friday Mar 9th - 2012

March 9th, 2012

Some people are telling me not to get involved with commenting on this issue, but it directly affects Guelph. And Guelph is the best city EVER! So especially since Guelph is the epicenter of a national story, a terrible national story of voter suppression, I want to comment.

So let me be clear:

Whoever did this, I hope they're caught quickly, dragged out to the street and made known to all. To mislead and take people's opportunity away to vote is disgusting.

There's a big difference between "voter suppression phone calls" and "nuisance" calls by all political parties. Yet the opposition, most far-left groups and even some of the hyper-media are grouping all calls into the same pile. And that's wrong.

I too received many "nuisance" calls throughout the Federal election last year. In fact three days before the election, my wife and I arrived home to this message on my machine:


This message wasn't really what I wanted to hear when I arrived home that night. I didn't like it, but I didn't start crying in a corner about it either.

I was interviewed today by the Guelph Mercury to comment on these types of calls and how best to address the situation about Guelph now being in the spotlight. While I listened to the message a few times today, I gathered some thoughts on the issue:

Although the message doesn’t say who authorized it, or who they were trying to promote, (although certainly not Marty Burke), I find it interesting that the woman specifically says to make sure you “vote strategically”. This is the most common Liberal statement throughout any campaign. They have the same typical game-plan, or recipe, no matter what election it is:

The Four Step Process:

Step 1. Right near the end of a campaign instill fear into all voters telling them “how close of a race it is”, between the Liberals and Conservatives.

Step 2. Extend an olive branch out to the Green Party and The NDP Party campaign managers and their supporters to make them understand that they need to be martyrs to their own ideals and that they need to tell their voters to switch to the Liberal Candidate, or the evil Conservatives will reign. “And you wouldn’t want that would you?”

Step 3. Send out media releases to all outlets telling them of the “urgency” to vote strategically or the Conservatives will become more evil then they already are. And don't worry the media will promote this message for you.

Step 4. Make sure the centre left – to far left voters understand that if election reform had happened by now, or proportional representation, that they wouldn’t have to vote strategically and leave the party they’ve just worked so hard for over the last 5 weeks, and now vote for the Liberal candidate.

So although this voicemail doesn’t say that it was endorsed by Frank Valeriote, or came from Frank Valeriote, it screams "Liberal Red" to me.

Either way, no matter who sent it, it's an annoying call to me, but not one I'm going to call Elections Canada about.


Thank you,

Cam Guthrie


***Update March 9th, 2012 at 8:06pm***

UPDATE: Frank Valeriotte, Liberal MP for Guelph, has responded to the National Post Newspaper:

“This was an issue based call, not a voter suppression call. It was paid for by our campaign.”

He said the fact it was not identified as coming from the Liberal Party was an “oversight” and that his office had been “completely open” with Elections Canada.

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Friday Mar 9th - 2012

This info was taken from the Guelph Mercury March 9th, 2012:

Council has also just received a report related to the state of remuneration of council members in 2011. That was prepared by the municipality’s finance department.

According to the report, Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge received $103,089 in remuneration last year. The breakdown of that payment was: $90,361.52 for her honorarium; $4,915.82 in benefits payments; and $4,811.72 in coverage of expenses.

Guelph’s councillors all received at least $33,000 last year, according to the report. All received honorariums of at least $28,796.82. That was what Cam Guthrie received. He refused an increase in the honorarium that took the payment to $29,934.99 for all the other councillors.

The finance department shows that expenses paid to councillors varied widely. June Hofland, Maggie Laidlaw and Karl Wettstein all received in excess of $2,500 in payment related to expenses. Ian Findlay, Karl Wettstein, Guthrie, Andy Van Hellemond and Todd Dennis received no remuneration related to expenses.

According to the report, expenses are only reimbursed based on actual costs with the submission of appropriate receipts. The maximum annual amount that a councillor can be reimbursed for is $3,250. The maximum for the mayor is $10,600 per year.

Council sets its own remuneration rate. It uses a citizen review committee to assist it in this area. The committee conducts a market review of like payments in like municipalities to make recommendations in this regard every four years.

The present council remuneration rates are to remain in force through the 2014 budget year.

Thank you,

Cam Guthrie

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Saturday Mar 3rd - 2012


What is a fully automated cart collection system?
A fully automated collection system uses a mechanical arm on the waste collection truck to empty plastic carts into the correct compartment of the collection truck. This is different than a manual system where a City employee empties the container into the truck.

Why is the City of Guelph changing from the existing manual collection to fully automated collection?

A cart-based waste collection system for all three waste streams will increase the City’s waste diversion rate, create operational efficiencies, reduce waste collection fleet operating costs and reduce the City’s carbon footprint. The City has researched the benefits, municipal waste collection best practices, and feasibility of a cart-based waste collection system to satisfy a recommendation of the 2008 Solid Waste Management Master Plan. Based on this research, Council has endorsed the adoption of this new system.

What will I need to participate in the program?

The City of Guelph will provide residents with an information package about the automated cart collection program, an indoor kitchen food scrap collection container and three easy-to-use wheeled carts: one green cart for organics, one blue cart for recyclables and one grey cart for garbage. Only the carts provided by the City of Guelph will be collected at the curb.   

Will residents be able to choose the size of their waste collection carts?

Residents will receive a small (80-litre) green cart for their organics stream. Residents can choose from four cart sizes for the recycling and waste streams: depending on their individual needs (e.g. size of their household, waste generation rates, available storage space and ease of mobility): small (80-litre), medium (120-litre), large (240-litre) and extra large (360-litre).

When will the carts be available to residents?
Converting to a cart-based collection system will be phased in over a three-year period, starting in fall 2012. This approach will help keep the cost manageable. One-third of Guelph homes will receive their carts in 2012, the second phase in 2013 and the third and final phase in 2014.

Will the items I currently separate into green, blue and clear bags now go into green, blue and grey waste carts?

The acceptable items for each stream are essentially the same as in the current waste collection system: organics, recyclables and garbage. Residents will have the option of lining the organics cart with paper liners. Residents are asked to keep the recyclables loose in the blue cart. No need to bag or bundle them. Shredded paper is the only material that needs to be bundled in transparent blue plastic bags and placed inside the cart.  

Note: The City’s preference for the disposal of shredded paper is stated above.  However, shredded paper may be placed in the green (organics) cart or the blue (recyclables) cart.  Other municipalities have found that residents like to use shredded paper at the bottom of the green (organics) cart to absorb any liquids.

Where will I store my carts?
Keep your carts in a convenient location. Your carts can be stored wherever you currently keep your waste bags: in the garage, in the backyard, in an outdoor storage unit, or the side of your home. City staff will also be available to assist residents identify suitable locations where storage space is extremely limited.

What if I live in a multi-residential property and there is no space for carts?

The City recognizes that certain areas of Guelph such as multi-residential properties (e.g. no driveways, no garages) have space limitations. Multi-residential properties on City collection may be provided with organics kitchen food scrap collection containers and an in-unit recyclable container that residents can use to bring their waste to a central cart location. Centralized collection areas will need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Solid Waste Resources staff have already met with several Property Managers to find site-specific solutions. Please have your Superintendent and/or Property Manager contact Solid Waste Resources at 519-767-0598 or waste@guelph.ca to speak to a staff member about any questions or concerns regarding a specific property.

How difficult are the carts to manoeuvre?

The carts have been designed for easy mobility with large wheels under a stable base to accommodate manoeuvring in difficult conditions such as snow.  Different sizes of carts are available to best fit resident needs.  In snow, it is recommended that the cart be pulled like a sled in order to glide over the snow rather than pushing the snow like a plough.

Where will I place the carts for weekly collection?

Place your carts at the curb or in the mouth of your driveway. Orient your carts such that the lid opens toward the street. Carts must be placed one metre apart and one metre in front of or beside fences/retaining walls.
Do I need to buy these carts?
No.  The City of Guelph will provide your home with three carts: one green cart for organics, one blue cart for recyclables and one grey cart for garbage. The carts belong to the City of Guelph. They will be registered to your property address and will remain at that address if you move.

What if I have more garbage, recycling or organic waste than space in the carts?
Additional containers can be purchased at cost from the Waste Resource Innovation Center at 110 Dunlop Drive. You may also bring additional waste to the Waste Resource Innovation Center for a disposal fee.
For oversized items (e.g. furniture), residents can continue to use the Bulky Item Collection program.  

If my cart breaks or is damaged, do I have to pay to replace it?

The carts have an extended manufacturer’s warranty. If your cart breaks or is damaged, the City will replace it for free. Visit guelph.ca/waste or call 519-767-0598 for information on exchanging your cart.

Why isn't the City converting all residents to cart-based collection at one time?

Due to the City’s budget, staff recommended that any conversion to carts and the associated purchase of capital equipment be phased in over a minimum three-year period.

When will the City receive fully automated cart collection vehicles?

The City will phase-in the replacement of the current manual waste collection vehicles with fully automated cart collection vehicles over three years starting in 2012. We expect to have the first fully automated cart collection vehicle on the road this fall.

Why doesn't the City allow residents to use blue boxes or carts with our current collection equipment?
The current challenge with these containers is that they must be manually collected and returned to the curb since the City does not possess any automated equipment. Introduction of carts without transitioning to fully automated collection equipment would increase the amount of time and labour spent and would require additional trucks, resulting in increased costs.

What is the tax-supported cost of carts and converting the collection fleet?

Although the cost associated with fully automated waste collection for all three waste streams has a capital cost of $10- $12 million, there is an approximate operating savings of $460,000 per year.  Funding for the curbside carts is set at a maximum of $6.2 million less $960,000 grant for 5.2 million. Internal borrowing from the Vehicle and Equipment Replacement Reserve Fund is set at a maximum of $4.6 million less $375,000 grant (and less $197,000 salvage value) for $4 million for the purchase of 15 waste packer trucks.

Did the City receive any third-party funding?
The City received a Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF) grant in the amount of $1,335,519 from Waste Diversion Ontario, approximately $960,000 allocated to carts and $375,000 allocated to trucks.  

If the City moves to automated tipping and opaque carts, how will the collection drivers know if the contents in the cart are properly sorted?

Cameras will be installed inside the hopper of the trucks to view the material being tipped.  A notice will be left on the cart explaining any concerns.  Education and by-law staff will be available to address any concerns.

Why aren’t compostable bags allowed in Guelph’s organic waste stream?
The Ministry of Environment determines the Environmental Compliance Approval conditions for each municipal waste facility. Guelph’s Environmental Compliance Approval states that the Organic Waste Processing Facility cannot accept any organic waste collected through a program that allows the use of plastic or certified compostable plastic bags. Paper liners readily break down in the composting process, whereas the compostable liners may not break down. Plastic bag liners, biodegradable and compostable bag liners are not an option for Guelph.

Will the green cart attract pests?
The green cart design includes a tight-fitting lid to keep pests out.
Tips for preventing pests:
•    Keep the lids closed on your kitchen food scrap collection container and green cart.
•    Empty your kitchen food scrap collection container into your green cart on a regular basis.
•    Wipe out your green cart as needed.
•    The kitchen food scrap collection container can be washed in the dishwasher.
•    Avoid insects and other pests by sprinkling a handful of salt, garden lime or powdered ginger in the kitchen food scrap collection container or green cart. Use white vinegar as an effective, environmentally-friendly disinfectant.
•    Do not store the cart in direct sunlight.

How can I keep my green cart and kitchen food scrap collection container clean and minimize odour?
The green cart is designed for housing organic waste and is easy to clean.
Tips for minimizing odours:
•    Line the cart with shredded paper, newspaper, paper bags, flour or sugar bags, paper shopping bags or cereal box.
•    Paper bag liners are available at local retailers.
•    Use shredded paper, soiled facial tissues and soiled paper towels to absorb liquids at the bottom of the cart.
•    Wrap food scraps in newspaper or soiled paper towels. You may consider adding paper to the green cart each time you empty your kitchen food scrap collection container.
•    Empty your kitchen food scrap collection container into your green cart regularly.
•    Wipe your green cart as needed.
•    The kitchen food scrap collection container can be washed in the dishwasher.
•    Use white vinegar as an effective, environmentally-friendly disinfectant.
•    Do not store the containers in direct sunlight.

Can I continue to use my backyard composter?
Yes. The City encourages the use of backyard composters. Organic waste that you would not place in your backyard composter, such as meat, fats, oils and dairy products can be included in your green cart.

Can I place leaves and yard waste in my green cart?
Yes. Leaves and yard waste can be placed in your green cart each week.

Will scheduled spring and fall yard waste collection continue?
Yard waste collection will no longer be required because residents can top up their green cart each week all year.

If I have more yard waste than will fit in my green cart, can I place kraft yard waste bags at the curb?
No. Residents are encouraged to use backyard composters or can bring additional yard waste to the Waste Resource Innovation Center, 110 Dunlop Drive.

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Saturday Mar 3rd - 2012

Good afternoon Your Worship and Members of Council,

In preparation for Guelph’s move to a fully automated cart collection system over the next three years beginning in the fall of 2012, we have set up an information display in City Hall.  Residents can now come to the City Hall Galleria to see a display of all four cart sizes and the kitchen catcher container. Information boards have also been set up explaining the program.

With the cart delivery, residents will receive:
• an information package about automated cart collection plus a kitchen catcher and a 80-litre green cart for organics.
This cart size will allow residents to conveniently top up their green (organic) waste cart with leaves and yard waste each week, all year.

Residents will choose:
• the size of the blue cart for recyclables and the size of grey cart for garbage that best meets their household needs.


Dean F. Wyman | General Manager
Solid Waste Resources
City of Guelph

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Saturday Mar 3rd - 2012

Good afternoon Mayor Farbridge and Councillors,

Just a quick note to update everyone on this weekend’s anticipated weather event.  No, we are not expecting the “big one”… but we are expecting some “weather” to occur.  Since it is March…and as we know anything can happen in March, I am providing you this update.

Temperatures reached 6 degrees celcius today, a possible record for this date.  Temperatures are expected to rise even further overnight, with rain expected to begin around 6:00pm.  The rain and increasing temperatures will bring high winds and possible thunderstorms overnight.  The temperature will max out at 7 degrees by 3:00am then begin to drop to 1 degree by morning.  The high winds  and rain will cause hazardous conditions and caution is advised if out travelling tonight.  The rain is expected to change to snow flurries by 5:00am with total expected snow accumulation of 1.9cm by 8:00pm Saturday night.

Public Works crews are on standby and ready to respond to the weather conditions as they materialize.  

You can expect further updates as/if the situation changes.


Sam Mattina | Manager
Operations & Transit |Public Works Department
Roads & Right of Ways

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christine.billings@guelph.ca | 519-826-0567

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