Plasco deal headed to the curb?

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Corey Laroque, Ottawa Sun

Some city councillors are looking at Plasco's failure to show them the money as a chance to scrap a controversial plan that never really got off the ground.

Plasco Energy Group missed a Dec. 31 deadline imposed by City Hall to prove it has the financing in place to build an garbage incinerator meant to address Ottawa's waste woes by burning household garbage and generating electricity.

Missing the deadline could be the out from the deal the city needs, said Coun. Jeff Leiper, one of the new faces on council.

"It's our option to make a clean break from this project," Leiper said Friday after receiving a memo from city manager Kent Kirkpatrick advising councillors that Plasco had missed the Dec. 31 deadline.

"I'm not confident this is ever going to come to fruition," said Leiper, a member of the environment committee which will take a crack at the issue Feb. 17.

Kirkpatrick wrote to Mayor Jim Watson and council members Friday advising them "(Plasco) did not satisfy the necessary requirements" in its agreement with the city.

The memo sets the stage for council to trash its agreement with Plasco.

Council had given the company a 60-day extension on Oct. 31 to provide city officials with "evidence of their capacity to fund or finance" the Ottawa Commercial Facility.

But that extended deadline passed Wednesday.

It doesn't mean the deal is dead, Kirkpatrick advised council.

But by missing the deadline again, it gives council the option to "terminate" the agreement at its discretion.

The next step will be a staff report at the next meeting of the city's environment committee on Feb. 17.

That report will include the results of a request for expressions of interest staff undertook in the event that Plasco failed to meet the Dec. 31 deadline.

Coun. Scott Moffatt said he's not interested in giving the company another extension to demonstrate they have the financing in place.

"They've had 10 years to prove their technology works and three years to show they can fund their project ... They've had ample time to achieve the goals set out in the contract," said Moffatt, another member of the environment committee.

In response to Kirkpatrick's memo to council, Plasco issued its own three-sentence statement, referring to the city memo as an "update" on the situation.

"The announcement today is completely in keeping with our understanding of the City’s status and process," Plasco's president and CEO Ray Floyd said in a statement.

He noted his company has been in Ottawa for 10 years and has worked closely with City Hall in that time.

The company's communications director said Plasco would not expand on that statement.

"In February, there will be a review of all this. Let's see what happens," Chiasson said, noting that it's a new and "it's a new council."

In December 2012, Ottawa turned to Plasco to help find a solution to its residential garbage woes.

Plasco wants to build a commercial "plasmification" plant to burn household garbage until it turns into rock-like chunks. Burning the garbage will power electricity generators.

The proposed facility would be built on Moodie Dr. near Trail Rd. in the city's west end.

The plan had been attractive to councillors because there's little appetite around city hall for building another dump to bury trash.

Over the years, however, Plasco has not said very much about its plans to finance the construction of such a facility.

- with files from Jon Willing