Plasco mulls smaller plant as financing deadline approaches

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CBC News

The new chair of Ottawa's environment committee says the city will need to move quickly if Plasco fails to meet its latest financing deadline because the city doesn't have a plan B.

The waste-to-energy company has until Dec. 31 to raise enough money to build a full-scale plant.

Plasco has missed financing deadlines twice before and each time the city granted an extension.

Now, with less than three weeks before the latest deadline is set to expire, Plasco has informed the city it's looking at building a smaller plant than originally planned.

Duncan Bury, a waste management consultant who helped set up Ottawa's blue box program, said the city should cut its losses and that the technology was never a good idea.

"If the city had looked at some of the evidence, if they'd done the proper due diligence ... they would have found that out. Nobody has done plasma gasification for mixed municipal solid waste," Bury said.

Taxes capped, transit fares face hike

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Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

Council on Wednesday unanimously accepted Mayor JimWatson's direction to cap the property tax hike at 2% in 2015.

But council could have some work to do making sure transit fares don't increase beyond that asOC Transpo tries to improve its ridership and depend less on tax money for operations.

If transit requires more money thanwhat a 2% tax increase can offer, there's only one other source of revenue to provide the difference: Riders.

"Well, I'm glad I'm not that transit chair," Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans quipped after asking the treasurer questions about transit implications during a council meeting.

And that was shortly after Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais was confirmed as the new chairman of the transit commission, succeedingDeans.

Staff are still working on the draft 2015 budget, whichwill be tabled Feb. 4.

The treasury isn't worriedmuch about fuel prices since the city hedges about 75% of its consumption for the year. For 2015, that volume is hedged at about $1.04.

Staff are more concerned about salary increases awarded through arbitration. Thecity is currently in arbitration with its largest union, CUPE Local 503.

Citymanager Kent Kirkpatrick told council he doesn't intend to add more full-time equivalent positions to themunicipal public service next year.

Some councillors continued to voice concern about being locked into a draft budget without move tomanoeuvre.

River Coun. Riley Brockington warned against "handcuffing" council's ability to address critical needs. Capital Coun. David Chernushenko suggested he won't be afraid to recommend a higher tax increase if there are pressing social demands.

"Our job is to find that balance," Watson said. "Keep the taxes affordable but provide good basic public services at the same time."

Council likes 2% tax cap but faces transit fare challenge

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By Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

Council on Wednesday unanimously accepted Mayor Jim Watson's direction to cap the property tax hike at 2% in 2015.

But council could have some work to do making sure transit fares don't increase beyond that as OC Transpo tries to improve its ridership and depend less on tax money for operations.

If transit requires more money than what a 2% tax increase can offer, there's only one other source of revenue to provide the difference: Riders.

"Well, I'm glad I'm not that transit chair," Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans quipped after asking the treasurer questions about transit implications during a council meeting.

And that was shortly after Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais was confirmed as the new chairman of the transit commission, succeeding Deans.

Staff are still working on the draft 2015 budget, which will be tabled Feb. 4.

The treasury isn't worried much about fuel prices since the city hedges about 75% of its consumption for the year. For 2015, that volume is hedged at about $1.04.

Staff are more concerned about salary increases awarded through arbitration. The city is currently in arbitration with its largest union, CUPE Local 503.

City manager Kent Kirkpatrick told council he doesn't intend to add more full-time equivalent positions to the municipal public service next year.

Some councillors continued to voice concern about being locked into a draft budget without move to manoeuvre.

River Coun. Riley Brockington warned against "handcuffing" council's ability to address critical needs. Capital Coun. David Chernushenko suggested he won't be afraid to recommend a higher tax increase if there are pressing social demands.

"Our job is to find that balance," Watson said. "Keep the taxes affordable but provide good basic public services at the same time."

Introducing Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson's 'cabinet'

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Committee members were names at city hall in Ottawa Tuesday Dec 9 2014. Ottawa city councillor David Chernushenko during Tuesday's meeting. Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun/QMI Agency

Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

Mayor Jim Watson has hand-picked councillors to join his inner-circle for the four-year term.

"I've always said it's a bit like a Rubik's Cube. You think you have something as a right fit and you realize something else is missing," Watson said after a nomination committee meeting Tuesday.

No rookie councillor is getting the nod to chair a major committee or board. Watson is preferring to stick with the councillors he has built a rapport with over the past four years.

There are, however, several newbies selected for less influential vice-chair roles on committees.

All appointments are subject to council's ratification Wednesday.