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Details emerge on Euro trip

Taxpayer-funded visit of up to 11 days to Spain, France to investigate amaerobic digesters



One of the facilities councillors and staff will be visiting is an anaerobic digester and biogas generator in Bourg-en-Bresse, France, southwest of Lyon.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

Regional councillors and staff will be in Europe for up to 11 days, according to documents obtained by The Oshawa Express.

According to a proposed itinerary for the trip to inspect anaeorbic digesters, those taking part in the trip would fly out from Toronto on June 30 and arrive in Paris the following day on Canada Day. The current plan is for the group to visit five different facilities over the 11-day span – three in France and two in Spain.

The proposed itinerary also includes windows for free time in Paris and, if the trip goes for the full 11 days, Barcelona. However, the option is in place to end the trip on July 9, rather than July 11.

The planned itinerary, which states it is for 12 people, also includes plans for hotel accommodations, travel arrangements and one possible dinner with Organic Waste Systems, a Belgium-based company that builds biogas generators and anaeorbic digesters that runs a facility in Bourg-en-Bresse, France, a town of approximately 40,000 people 70 kilometres northeast of Lyon.

According to the OWS website, that facility processes 40,000 tons of organic waste per year, opening operations a year ago.

The group will also be visiting facilities in Polignac and Montpellier, France, as well as two in Barcelona.

“The education trip’s itinerary is not yet finalized however, since this tour is part of our due diligence to ensure that the technology works and to determine the potential community impacts of a similar green energy project in Durham we are tentatively planning to visit five organics processing sites,” Cliff Curtis, the region’s works commissioner, tells The Oshawa Express in an emailed statement.

The document lacks specifics, including what hotels the delegation would be staying at or specific flight arrangements.

The Oshawa Express recently learned that the region is planning a trip for this summer for a group of councillors and staff to go to Europe to investigate anaerobic digesters – which turns compost into biogas – as a means of energy production.

Joanne Paquette, a spokesperson for the region’s works department, previously said the trip would be paid for from the solid waste management budget.

She adds that to date, five technical staff have confirmed they will attend and five councillors have indicated they will attend, but that number is subject to change.

While the trip was originally offered to members of the region’s works committee, a source tells The Oshawa Express that councillors from other committees have since been invited.

This will not be the first time that the region has taken a trip to Europe to investigate a new means of disposing of waste and generating energy.

In 2007, 16 regional councillors and staff – including Regional Chair Roger Anderson, works commissioner Cliff Curtis, region chief administrative officer Garry Cubitt and Oshawa councillor Nester Pidwerbecki – went over to Europe to check out energy from waste facilities ahead of the announcement of the recently completed Durham York Energy Centre in Clarington. The eight-day trip saw stops in seven different cities, including Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm. That trip also came with a price tag of $192,000, or about $16,000 per person.