Corruption, Collingwood & the Collus Board

See no evil...The Most Secretive Council Ever has comfortably assumed the mantle of The Most Secretive and Corrupt Council Ever. As I warned in a previous post, The Block was going to appoint someone’s friends to the Collus-PowerStream board – and do it both illegally and unethically. And last Monday, they told us they had done it. Fait accompli.

But as you have learned this term, laws, procedures, ethics and morals are for others to obey, not for The Block.

According to a story in The Connection (apparently the EB couldn’t be bothered to report on it online and I don’t get their print version…):

Michael Pace and David Goldsmith were named to the board, replacing Collingwood CAO John Brown and treasurer Marjory Leonard. Clerk Sara Almas remains on the board, serving as co-chairperson.

Know who these men are? Of course not. Only The Block knows. These men don’t live here. They didn’t even have to fill in an application to sit on a local board like the rest of us do. They were handed the appointments. Isn’t that usually called “patronage”? *

Who recommended them? The public has the right to know who is pulling the strings in those back rooms. It is an offense to public trust not to tell us.**

So now all three members of the utility board supposed to represent our local interests live out of town. According to the Connection story, one is a lawyer with “experience in mergers and acquisitions” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink…) but no experience in the electricity sector. The other is a consultant from Ottawa (we have already employed so many consultants this term, I’m surprised we just didn’t use one of them) and engineer, whose background (based on his website) seems mostly in steelmaking, with some experience in industrial-electrical relations.

How either can represent the interests of some 17,000 local residential customers, plus all the small businesses and commercial operations in our area was not explained. Nor will it be.

Nor were we told why the municipalities Collus PowerStream serves outside Collingwood have never yet been informed, much less consulted, about these changes in board membership that affects their residents and businesses, too.

But guess what else? You will have to pay to bring these two to any board meeting – paying the costs of their transportation, time and accommodations. One lives in Ottawa, one in Toronto. Imagine paying those expenses, those per diem costs for their trips here. Right: you got screwed by The Block. Again.

Councillor Lloyd questioned the process:

Coun. Kevin Lloyd questioned the process used to find the board members. Lloyd felt they should live in Collingwood, but Almas said Collus PowerStream is governed by the Ontario Business Corporations Act.

This Administration cried crocodile tears over not getting access to personal and confidential information so they could share it among themselves and watch it inevitably get leaked – information that is protected under the Ontario Business Corporations Act. Now it is riding on that high horse to justify breaking town procedure and our bylaws, but it won’t tell us who’s behind these choices. Ain’t hypocrisy grand?

You can watch the whole discussion on Rogers TV here starting at 1:36:43.

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No, Brian: Elvis isn’t in the CBSP

SaundersonAt the Nov. 28 Council meeting (seen here on Rogers TV), Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson blathered on in cliché-rich, lawerly manner (starting 1:14:05) about how much the Elvis Festival means to his “Community-Based Strategic Plan” (1:16:18) – that committee-based wishlist which was neither strategic nor a plan.

What does he mean when he claims that a report has “galvanized the question quite nicely”? Galvanized? Does he know what that word means? It’s not what he appears to think it does… it means to “shock or excite (someone), typically into taking action.” A staff report is seldom shocking or exciting, and even if it were, a question doesn’t get galvanized, nor the report, but rather the reader does.

When he claims he wants the festival to be a “self-sustaining entity unto itself…” I simply cannot grasp what that tautology means. Can you? It sounds like something from the Department of Redundancy Department.

And no, Brian, it doesn’t “beg a larger question” – begging the question doesn’t mean to raise one. It means to make “…a conclusion based on a premise that lacks support.” To beg the question would be to assume, for example, that because Elvis drank water, the festival should be hosted on the waterfront. The word you want to use here is “raise.”

Is he “hardened by the fact” or heartened? Sure sounds like he says the former… maybe some folks at the table find staff reports of a more prurient nature than I ever did.

But where does this fit in with his vaunted yet curiously flaccid CBSP? In fact it fits nowhere.

Number of times Elvis is mentioned in the CBSP: NONE.

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Muzzling the airport board

spinelessThe Collingwood Airport Board wants to get its own legal opinion about the Clearview Aviation Business Park request for a non-binding letter of intent to negotiate access to the airport. Seems reasonable for the board charged with oversight of the airport to want to make sure that any decisions made best represent their mandate and the viability of the airport itself.

The Block and Collingwood’s administration are opposed to them getting one. Are they afraid of what that opinion would say? That it wouldn’t come from a lawyer already instructed as to what to say? That they couldn’t control the message as they have with Collus-PowerStream?

Or do they simply want – as all dictators do – to want to muzzle the opposition? As they did with Collus-PowerStream?

Probably both.

This cabal certainly appears eager to kill the economic growth at the airport – or at least threaten to do so in order to blackmail Clearview into buying the airport in order to save the jobs and tax revenue. Bully tactics.

For two years, against all common sense or concern for the greater good, Collingwood Council has obstinately done everything in its power to prevent a $300 million development – the largest rural Ontario has seen in many decades – from going forward.

All of their discussions about the airport and selling it have been done behind closed doors (despite the campaign promises made by Brian Saunderson and others to get public input on every major decision). It’s your airport, a public asset, and you have been shut out of not only hearing the discussions, but from having any say in its disposal.

A story in the Connection online this week tells reader just how intolerant this cabal is towards openness, and the lengths they will go to muzzle anyone who challenges their personal agendas. The town is stepping well outside its authority in its efforts to block the board.

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Obstructionism killing 1,600+ jobs & growth

The Block's vision for our airportJust when you thought Collingwood Council couldn’t set the bar any lower, they go and move it down another notch. On Monday, Oct. 31, The Block had a chance to save face, rectify their blatant mismanagement of the Collingwood Regional Airport development and save the proposed, $300 million, 260-acre, industrial park that could bring 400 full-time and 1,300 part-time or temporary jobs to the area.

They didn’t. No surprises, of course.

Barry Burton, the deputy mayor of Clearview Township, made a presentation to our council, Monday*, reiterating his community’s commitment to the development and growth at the airport and asking Collingwood Council to please sign a non-binding letter of agreement for the development to access the airport. After all, what’s an airport industrial park without access to the runways?

After his presentation, council quickly sloughed off its responsibilities by requesting another staff report. This after numerous closed-door reports by lawyers and consultants and staff these past two years. Despite public presentations by the proponents again and again reiterating that all they want is a letter of intent to enter negotiations over access.

In Block terminology, a staff report, like “due diligence,” simply means procrastinate. Who ever thought councillors were elected to make an actual decision in public, when they can do it away from public scrutiny in camera? Better to request a staff report instead of actually deciding something.

You can watch the whole shebang on Rogers, with the deputation starting at 16:50. Prepare to be angry, insulted and fed up, if you aren’t already.

I wrote about the Block’s secret machinations to sell our airport without any public discussion let alone input back in November, 2015, December, 2015, and three times in January, 2016: January 2, January 3 and January 16. I recommend you read them for the background.

The Block seem eager to sabotage the biggest commercial development this region – or all of rural Ontario! – has seen since the 1960s, and in doing so kill the much-needed jobs it will bring. And it looks like they will succeed. There’s a very real chance the developers are about to give up and find another place to grow.

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Fulfilling a role? Who are you kidding?

Soviet propagandaThe bite of irony is in the air when a flimsy piece of blatant Block propaganda masquerading as an official media release is published by the town. It has the misleading headline, “Town fulfilling role in hospital redevelopment process,” but only delusional sycophants won’t read it as a Block screed.

When did town media releases shill for a group at the table, not represent the will of council as a whole? Did the mayor approve this dreck before it went out? I suspect not. *

It’s ironic that last term’s council was criticized by some of the very people who now sit on council now for releasing factual newsletters they decried as “propaganda” because these contained information that didn’t conform to a certain Block ideology. But this – this piece is so smarmy and disingenuous it’s embarrassing.

The town isn’t fulfilling any role – it’s simply an ideological tactic. The Block actively and aggressively tried (and is still trying) to prevent the hospital’s redevelopment on a new site. I’ve written about their efforts to derail the hospital several times in the past.

The piece quotes deputy mayor Brian Saunderson. Since when was he the spokesperson for the town? Why is he quoted at all except for self-aggrandizement? Oh I know, The Block doesn’t give a fig for policy, protocol or process, but this is arrogant beyond even that.

Here’s what he says:

Council has been given a mandate by the public through the Community Based Strategic Plan to support improved access to health care within Collingwood and we intend to continue to advocate on behalf of our residents to fulfill this goal.

Let’s start with the mandate. NO: paperwork doesn’t give council a mandate. A mandate is given by the voters but not some flaccid “Community Based Strategic Plan” that was neither strategic nor a plan. And it was a committee of The Block’s friends who cobbled this dog’s breakfast together under the guidance of an outsider consultant – not the public at large. That report was not a mandate – it was a wishlist and a poorly contrived one at that.

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Collus report debunks Block conspiracies

SAIDI and SAIFIEvery year, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) publishes the scorecard of local distribution companies (LDCs). Across the province, more than 70 LDCs are ranked and rated according to performance, customer service, efficiency, progress and other measurable data for residents to see how their utility is doing. It’s a thing called openness and transparency.

As the OEB notes:

The scorecard includes traditional metrics for assessing a distributor’s services, such as frequency of power outages, financial performance and costs per customer. In addition, performance results for 2014 and onward will include a number of new metrics that directly reflect the customer experience, such as how well the distributor resolves a customer’s concern on the first contact, the accuracy of customers’ bills, public safety and more.

Our own LDC, Collus PowerStream, is one of those LDCs listed. You can see its excellent scorecard here. And we do damn well. You wonder why local media aren’t trumpeting our success story. Our utility staff deserve to be publicly praised for what they have accomplished. Kudos, too, to the former board for their guidance (fired by The Block for being competent and successful).

The Block don’t want you to see the scorecard, won’t raise it at council. That would be open and transparent; words that are anathema to The Block.

As I’ve written in the past, they and the town’s administration have worked aggressively to destroy the relationship with our utility and our municipal partner, PowerStream. This has been done solely to fulfill private agendas and satisfy personal vendettas. It has never been about the greater good of the community. And it will cost you a lot: your taxes are going up to cover the added expenses, and your hydro rates will go up if our utility gets sold to Hydro One. All thanks to a small group of ideologues (whom the OEB is investigating).

Little one-and-two-person consulting firms you never heard of before they showed up here, and outside lawyers who may have significant conflicts of interest, were hired to discredit our electrical utility and everyone involved in the share sale last term. Some of our best staff have been driven out by the relentless witch hunt.

Incomplete or incorrect information has been presented to the public suggesting the utility has not performed properly or that the shared services agreement was somehow incomplete or ineffective, or that the share sale was somehow corrupt. That information wasn’t forthcoming or was missing. All rubbish.

Any counterpoint or data provided to contradict this has been suppressed by town staff. Despite two years of expensive (approx. $350,000 of your tax dollars wasted, with more to be spent) investigations to find some wrongdoing, nothing has been found to justify these wild conspiracy theories. That hasn’t dampened The Block’s passion for witch hunts and hurting people.

But they couldn’t stop the truth from being presented by the OEB. Now you can read it, too, and realize just how much you have been conned.
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You’re not invited. Again.

Another closed door meetingYou, the public, get shut out again. Less openness, less accountability, more secrecy, more Block. The annual general meeting (AGM) of Collus-PowerStream on October 6 – the local electrical utility that you ostensibly own 50% of – is not open to the public. It’s another closed door, secret meeting.

Why?

Council will send its representative and its (illegally-appointed) pet staff (as board members, one of whom doesn’t even live in town, let alone within the Collus service area). But the public isn’t allowed to attend to hear what the utility plans, what is said by its representatives and what the future holds for our utility. The public won’t get to hear about the finances, the rates, the changes that affect us.

You’re the owners but you’re not invited. How’s that for openness and transparency? Shut out again.

Everything about the relationship between the utility and the town has been done in secret by this council and the administration. Their closed-door conniving and manipulation has already cost taxpayers more than $350,000, wasted in legal and consulting fees. But we can’t learn what our tax dollars have been spent on because we’re not allowed to attend.

We have already had far too many secret meetings already this term. Why another? Because that’s the way The Block operates.

Collingwood deserves better.

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Sabotaging the hospital (again)

Derailing the processLast night at council, The Borg Block again took another step towards sabotaging the Collingwood General & Marine Hospital’s redevelopment plans. Not unexpected: destroying the community is a key plank in their platform, as we’ve seen by their actions against the airport, water utility and Collus PowerStream.

Plus, they need to pander to their ever-dwindling group of supporters who want to stop the redevelopment on a site they don’t like (but which 84% of medical staff do). That handful of venomous folk – which includes some former politicians and former VOTE members – hold sway over The Block and thus town practices and policies.

Cast your thoughts back to the election campaign of 2014. Remember these words:

Change the purchasing policy to ensure there can be no sole sourcing of any contract for goods or services over $25,000, no exceptions.

No exceptions, eh? That’s a promise to voters Brian Saunderson made in an interview in the Collingwood Connection in October, 2014. No exceptions. He really said that.

He’s now the Deputy Mayor. This week he broke that promise for the second time: he voted to sole-source a $30,000 contract to an out-of-town consultant.

This first time he broke his word was in February, 2015: council provided a five-year contract for taxi service to Councillor Fryer’s brother-in-law without following any RFP process.

Are you surprised that he broke his election promises? Neither am I. Stop snickering.

$30,000 of YOUR money will be wasted on consultants performing a “peer review” of the hospital’s redevelopment plans. Ironic, since The Block has a well-deserved reputation of not reading anything, and instead just voting however the administration tells them to vote. Reading is too hard. It means thinking and thinking is work. Better to have someone else do it for you.

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The unstrategic anti-plan returns

ZombieWednesday’s standing committee heard that the so-called “community-based strategic plan” has risen from the dead – a document that was committee-driven (not community; and a committee of carefully selected buddies, at that…), and was neither strategic nor a plan. See it in the agenda package.

A real strategic plan would have been council-driven, based on the vision of our elected representatives. But having none, The Block turned it over to an outsider and their friends to come up with something.*

Once The Block approved its creation in 2015, the resulting document, the ‘CBSP,’** became a bureaucratic zombie that never seems to die, like an extra in some cheesy Bruce Campbell B-flick. And like that undead extra, it continues to ring the cash register.

This zombie is supposed to be a “report card,” but instead it lists all sorts of minutiae that council patted its collective backs over, even though most things listed were simply part of some larger process, or just staff’s regular jobs. For The Block to even comment on them would be to micro-manage. Or even nano-manage them. It’s called the “2016 Report Card” even though 2016 is only two-thirds through. Maybe the other third of the year doesn’t matter, as long as the consultant gets paid.

And of course, The Block wants to take credit for this and for what staff do. Like they actually rolled up their sleeves and dug in to do some real work instead of meeting in secret to plot and scheme and raise your taxes.

So in a term highlighted by having no accomplishments for the greater good, the “CBSP” has become The Block’s poster child for their idea of success.

They hope that by waving it around periodically you’ll be so dazzled by its brilliance that you’ll forget that they raised your taxes. Twice. Or that they destroyed our 150-year-old working partnership between water and energy utilities and are running our electricity corporation into the ground. Or that they are trying (in secret meetings, of course) to kill the airport industrial park and its 400-plus jobs. Or that they almost scuttled the hospital redevelopment (and are still trying to do so…). Or they gave Councillor ‘Senator’ Jeffrey an unlimited expense account to wine and dine across the country (but apparently not Oakville where the latest FCM meeting was held – probably the in-drive food service and movie are terrible… and she can’t get her warm Camembert in the car…). Or the staff morale they’ve shattered.

But I know that you, dear reader, aren’t fooled. If this dreck is all they have to show for two years at the table, then it’s a sorry statement. But let’s take a closer look at it…

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Collingwood is being investigated by OEB

Rasputin?Collingwood Council and town administration are in trouble. The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) is investigating them and their recent activities with regards to Collus-PowerStream and its board of directors. This is not good news for those at the table or those behind the scenes who guided their hands.

A letter was unexpectedly added to the agenda for the Wednesday, Sept. 21 Strategic Initiatives standing committee from the OEB. It reads in part:

…the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) is commencing an inspection under the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 (Act) to review Collus (PowerStream Corp.’s (Collus) compliance with the Affiliate Relationships Code for Electricity Distributors and Transmitters (ARC).
The OEB was recently made aware of changes made in the composition of the Board of Directors of Callus, and through this inspection will review whether Collus is in compliance with section 2.1.2 of the ARC. That section requires that at least one-third of the Board of Directors of a licensed electricity distributor be independent of any affiliate.
We plan to commence this inspection with a meeting at your offices in Collingwood.
During that meeting, you should be prepared to provide information about the current members of the Collus Board of Directors. This includes, for each member, the date of their appointment, the term of their appointment, their relationship to any entity that is an affiliate of Collus and their qualifications, as well as any other details that may be relevant to our inspection.

But that letter wasn’t sent to the town. It was sent to Collus-PowerStream. The meeting will be at the Collus offices, not town hall, with Collus staff, not the interim CAO. So the utility has the opportunity to finally tell its side of the story without interference from town administration or their pet consultants and lawyers. The prevarications and disinformation about Collus presented to council and the public in the past will be exposed.

This is serious. The OEB is heavy artillery in the energy sector. They aren’t those little one-and two-person consultants or chequebook lawyers the administration has hired to fudge the facts and justify The Block’s destruction of our utility. The truth will come out at last.

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Hospital destruction avoided… for now

Sorry he got caughtCongratulations. Your efforts worked. After getting severe backlash from the community and even from their (former) supporters, The Block was chastised enough to recant their stubborn foolishness long enough to approve the hospital redevelopment after their previous debacle caused such an uproar.

That earlier motion blindsided council, the mayor and the hospital board: they had not shared with others before it was read aloud. A blatant show of partisanship and petty personal agendas over the greater good

The Block always plays to its supporters, no matter how drastically that group has shrunk over the past two years. And that little group was in the audience for that first motion to make sure their pet politicians followed the script. Which, of course, Blockheads did.

Still, with the threat of the hospital moving out of town directly because of their actions – or worse, not happening at all! – The Block was pressured by saner heads to back down. They folded like an origami frog and accepted the conciliatory motion at the Sept. 12 council meeting, which read:

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Council of the Corporation of the Town of Collingwood herein support the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital Board Trustees’ decision to submit its Stage 1A Master Program and Stage 1B Master Plan on September 30, 2016 to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, which includes both their preferred site and other viable options;
AND FURTHER THAT Collingwood Council is committed to ensuring a future with excellent healthcare for the region, which also includes the Township of Clearview, Town of The Blue Mountains and the Town of Wasaga Beach.

Nice, safe, supportive motion with a little wiggle room. Let the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care know we support our hospital and we want it to stay in Collingwood. Now, just quietly shove the former motion into the shredder.

But it was a near run thing. With this group of a half-dozen Dennis The Menaces in control, it almost didn’t come to be.

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Another Collus conspiracy debunked

Bad newsAs a former reporter and editor, I always feel a twinge of satisfaction when I read a well-written story in the local papers that gets all of its facts right. When everything is stated correctly, the English is good, the facts well reported, the reporting unbiased and everything clearly posited. It just makes me beam.

Sadly, I haven’t felt that joy for a few years now. I too often feel our local reporters are on cruise control, and don’t work very hard at getting their stories right. They are too quick to swallow the propaganda issuing from town hall or from their ideological buddies at the table. And fact checking? Local investigative journalism seems to have gone the way of the VHS and 8-track.

This week’s bog-paper story appears in the Enterprise-Bulletin, titled, Power deal remains up in the air.

Collingwood CAO John Brown reported to council this week that despite best efforts of the town’s lawyer, PowerStream has still not responded to the town’s request for satisfaction on the working of the shared services agreement.

As you, dear reader, know, this is codswallop. My sources tell me that every request for information – and there have been many, often the same one sent over and over and over and over – has been fulfilled: reams and reams of papers have been supplied to town hall.

Except, of course, for personal, confidential and legally-protected data on employees’ salaries. Which the administration continues to demand for no logical reason. It certainly has nothing to do with the shared services agreement. Saying so has always been a thin ruse to justify the intrusion into confidentiality.

In fact, the previously appointed members of the Collus-Powerstream board – an experienced, respected group of professionals – were summarily fired and replaced by pet staffers with no experience or knowledge in the electricity sector (in violation of the town’s own procedural bylaw…). They were chosen solely to get that information for the Block who want to share it with their buddies and bloggers like school children sharing salacious gossip.

Then the staffers who replaced the board snottily refused to sign a standard non-disclosure agreement promising not to share confidential information with non-board members.

Like I said, readers know this has all been merely a part of the Block’s ongoing vendettas, fuelled by personal agendas and conducted in secret while the group labours to sell YOUR utility without any public discussion, let alone input from you, the taxpayer. But let’s return to the article.
Continue reading “Another Collus conspiracy debunked”

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A brief update on Collus-PowerStream

Just a brief note to give my readers the opportunity to examine two documents related to Collus-PowerStream and our council’s secretive efforts to sabotage our utility. Both are in PDF format, linked below.

First is the presentation given by the Electricity Distribution Association (EDA) to AMO delegates earlier this month. I referred to this in a recent post about the opportunities this council has thrown away in their headlong rush to fulfill their petty little vendettas.

Collus-PowerStream was mentioned during the presentation (page 14) as one of the leading innovators in LDCs in Ontario. Bet you’ve never heard The Block say anything like that at the table.

Never a good word for all the hard work our utility staff have done comes from The Block. They can’t stand hearing good news about our utility they want to destroy and they never, ever pass any positive news along to you – the actual owners of our utility.

We could have been in the forefront of a remarkable exciting new development, been a player in new organization – had The Block not interfered with their petty, personal agendas. But you’ll never hear them admit it.

Second is the EDA’s weekly newsletter for August 16, 2016 which also provides a summary of the presentation. On page 2, you’ll read how our own utility was profiled for its efficiency:

Collus PowerStream’s SmartMAP which has improved outage restoration and operational efficiency.

Once again, we are being recognized by the provincial association, esteemed in the eyes of LDCs and municipalities across the province. But do you think you’ll ever hear The Block mention this at the council table? Of course not! Nor will you read in in the local media, which, sadly, does little more than regurgitate The Block’s slimy propaganda.

The weekly newsletter is also interesting because it highlights news, issues, events, policy changes and events in the energy sector. Which, of course, The Block never reads because they don’t receive it. That would require them to actually taken an interest in the energy sector and learn something. Both of which are anathema to all Blockheads. Besides, they already know everything. Actually learning something would just confuse them.

The newsletter would normally go to LDC board members, but given who The Block placed on the utility board – their administrative pitbulls – they are unlikely to pass it along to the public, either. It’s kept secret, like everything else done around, with and to our utility. But here, at least this one time, you have a chance to read what The Block doesn’t want you to know.

You’re welcome.

Collingwood deserves better. You deserve better.

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Opportunities Collingwood has lost

I spent two days in the trade show at the AMO conference this week, looking at the booth across the aisle from me. It constantly reminded me of the opportunities for Collingwood this council has thrown away, of what great opportunities we have lost this term.

The booth across from me was announcing the upcoming merger of four of the province’s top utility companies – Horizon, Enersource, Hydro One Brampton and PowerStream. This will make it the largest LDC (local distribution corporation) in Ontario. The four most innovative, customer-oriented, conservation-minded, efficient and forward-thinking utilities are merging.

You remember PowerStream? They are our municipal partners in Collus. So why haven’t you heard about this venture? Because The Block doesn’t want you to know about it.

This will be the start of a powerhouse operation that changes the face of the utility sector in Ontario. It will streamline operations and combine resources – all for the betterment of their customers.

Collingwood could have been part of this exciting new development. Should have been part of it – had our council and administration not aggressively destroyed the once-great relationship between the town and our utility partner, PowerStream. Had our council and administration not aggressively destroyed the relationship between our utility, and its excellent, hard-working staff, and the town. Had our council and administration not aggressively destroyed our town’s reputation and standing in the province.

But, of course, they did, as you, dear reader, know from reading the tragic news here. Deliberately, they pursued personal agendas and private vendettas. And we watch slip away the opportunity to be part of something new, dynamic and exciting. The opportunity to be in the forefront vanishes while we shuffle to the rear.

No one wants Collingwood at the table these days. That was driven home to me during the conference through several conversations with people in the energy sector and other municipalities. No one could understand why our council wants to alienate one of the most progressive LDCs in the province and align with the least efficient, least respected power company – the one with the highest electricity rates and lowest customer satisfaction.

No one could understand why our council insisted on shooting itself in the foot. Again, and again, and again.

To outsiders it seems like madness. Only to the small, myopic circle of Blockheads at the table does it make sense to destroy what everyone else in the energy sector heralded as a brilliantly conceived, mutually beneficial, morale-boosting partnership.

Once lost, we can never recover it. Lost opportunities will be this council’s lasting legacy.
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The destruction of Collus

Council wrecking our townThere’s a story in the online Connection that highlights how much this council has spent on lawyers and consultants to further its vendetta against Collus-Powerstream: more than $400,000 so far. Half of it was spent in 2015 (I have seen a document that shows more than $249,000 spent in 2015) and the cash register is still ringing. By the end of this year it may well top $750,000-$1 million.

That’s $400,000 of your tax dollars already spent for nothing. Not in town, not on local companies or services. We got absolutely no benefit from that expense. It wasn’t spent on anything for the greater good, but to pursue a very personal vendetta.

Remember that promised savings of $500,000-$750,000 the CAO bragged about back in March? It seems it’s all going to lawyers and consultants. And they’ll be getting more, too. The bills just keep rolling in.

This week, we got the news that Collus Powerstream is one of the top-performing utilities in the province. The Ontario Energy Board released its 2015 Benchmarking Report. in it, Collus Powerstream moved from the third tier (of five) up to second. It’s quite an accomplishment – and owed entirely to the efforts of our great, hardworking utility staff (including the former CEO, Ed Houghton).

It’s ironic that Hydro One remains in tier five – the lowest-performing category. Yet this is who The Block has been secretly trying to sell our utility to: the least efficient utility in the province. Powerstream is, by the way, the second largest municipal utility in this province, with more customers than Toronto Hydro. Powerstream has even more urban customers than Hydro One.

Why do I say costs could top $1 million? Because the Block’s aggressive drive to destroy Collus-Powerstream is about to come to an explosive head. I expect that before the end of summer, Powerstream will be so fed up with the harassment from town hall they will make an offer to buy our share of the utility. And then it will be gone.

We will have lost control over our own hydro rates and services. It will relocate out of town, maybe even out of the region. We will also lose the more than $200,000 a year we get for rent from the building. And any future cash dividends. But we will have the inevitable bills from lawyers to close the deal. Ka-ching!

Now while that purchase is likely the best thing for the staff at Collus – it will get them away from the toxic relationship created by this council and administration – and it will probably benefit the consumer too* – it means we lose a valuable public asset: our electrical utility.

And you, the public haven’t been able to even hear the discussions, let alone provide your input. It’s all been done behind closed doors. Screwed again by The Most Secretive Council Ever.

Continue reading “The destruction of Collus”

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