Thursday, May 12, 2011

Scandal Amok

The Well Still Runs for Nestle

Much to the dismay and disappointment of environmentalists and anti-corporatists in the Royal City, the Ministry of the Environment approved a five-year renewal of the Nestle’s water taking permit at its Aberfoyle bottling plant. The good news is that the approval wasn’t for the 10 year stretch that Nestle applied for, but the bad news is that Nestle will be permitted to continue taking the allotted 3.6 million litres per day. Reaction was swift, but local advocates only have a limited time to make their appeal, primary among them the Wellington Water Watchers.

With a limited window to appeal, 15 days from when the decision was announced the Friday before the election, the Watchers quickly sprang into action forming a subcommittee to meet last Wednesday for a strategy session about the matter "The Wellington Water Watchers had made submissions to the Ministry of Environment and it looks to us that a great extent these submissions were almost ignored by the Ministry of Environment in the decision that they made," said Andre Hueniken, a Board Member of the Water Watchers.

The MOE for its part, seems to think that they have been conciliatory to concerns about the aquifer, limiting the permit to five years over ten “to allow a fulsome and ongoing review of monitoring data in a shorter time frame,” according to MOE regional director Carl Slater in the Wellington Advertiser. “It also allows for consideration of the water taking to be re-evaluated depending upon the local conditions and development in the area.”

John Challinor, the Director of Corporate Affairs for Nestle Canada, says that his company has no interest in draining the well, as it were. “When you invest millions of dollars in your plant like we do, you don't want your water source to be impacted,” he said to CTV. “You don't want it to go dry, you don't want to see a reduction, you don't want to harm your neighbours.”

This issue’s unlikely to go away, so stayed for more developments on the water front. (Get it! Oh, never mind. Next issue…)
Cam Says Bygones

From a bit of controversy of elections past, Ward 4 Councillor Cam Guthrie posted to the Mercury’s 59 Carden Street blog last week an apology to readers of the blog for posting comments using pseudonyms. “As most of you here are aware, up until last fall I had used other names to represent myself and I was wrong to do that,” Guthrie wrote. “I took swift steps to apologize to those I hurt outside of this arena, but I couldn’t do it individually to people here because I don’t know many of your real names. I want to rejoin you in the conversations here, but before I do that, I owe all of you a heartfelt apology and I wanted to ask for forgiveness.” Forgiveness seems to be what Guthrie has received, so we can now return to our regularly scheduled tirades.

Wanted: New Treasurer and Details

It was a bit under a cloak of secrecy last Tuesday night when, in an in-camera session of city council, mayor and council were informed that Chief Financial Officer and City Treasurer Margaret Neubauer had been terminated after nearly three years of service to the City of Guelph. Chief Administrative Officer Hans Loewig made the announcement to council, but said that there were few details he could release about the reason for the termination. “It is very difficult for us to say anything more than making a basic statement,” Loewig told the Guelph Mercury in a quick interview.

So what’s the story here? As of deadline, we’re still not sure. What we do know is that Neubauer will, according to Mark Amorosi, the city’s executive director of corporate and human resources, “receive an exit package in accordance with the Council approved Non-Union Termination Policy.” What does that mean? I refer you to the City’s termination without cause policy, which is defined as a termination “as a result of the employer’s decision to end the services of an employee for reasons including, but not limited to: reorganization, position elimination, inability of the employee to fulfil the expectations of their position.” So it’s possible that Neubauer was downsized, but a report in January said that her department was understaffed.

Neubauer is one of a number of City employees to leave their high-level positions in the last several months. I think at this point we can officially certify it as a mass exodus, but as to the cause, right now, that remains a mystery.

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