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Port needs to find answers

On November 9, 2016, a story was printed in the pages of this very newspaper entitled, “The end of ethanol”.

While it detailed the end of the existing threat of an ethanol facility on the Oshawa waterfront, it would appear the end of this fiasco is far from near.

Most recently, the auditor responsible for the books of the Oshawa Port Authority pulled no punches in saying they are in big trouble.

Due to the poor decision making that led to the approval of the ethanol plant back in 2012, the port now finds itself on the hook for a $4.1 million arbitration settlement.

It’s something that chair of the port authority board Gary Valcour says was quite surprising. Is that the same kind of surprise the port felt when the backlash from the city and residents exploded five years ago? The same kind of feeling that came last year when the public voices exploded at the port’s AGM calling for answers?

Quite simply, the proof is in the numbers.

The deal for the ethanol plant has never been made public, but it’s clear that FarmTech did their due diligence in ensuring if the project ever fell through, they’d walk away with at least something to show for it.

What does the Oshawa Port Authority have?

Other than their apparent surprise, they’re left with residents who feel slighted, a council shaking their heads and one hefty bill that could push them toward financial ruin.

But that’s on them now, and all the blowback should fall on them as well.

The city did its part in opposing the project and applying enough pressure that it eventually collapsed on itself.

Anything the port looks to do now to recover from their poor choice, must be done with the utmost care and not fall back on the city and its residents.

Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki is right in saying that any money-making effort must not come at the price of the environment or the potential for development that exists in the area. The new cement operation has everyone on enough of an edge already.

While Valcour is right in pointing to the fact that business has increased at the port in recent years, and that not all is “gloom and doom”, a small increase in wharfage and a $500,000 borrowing limit from the federal government doesn’t add up to $4.1 million.

On Sept. 14, when the port reconvenes for its AGM, it should come to the table with solutions as to how it will move forward out of this quagmire. And the port authority shouldn’t be surprised that residents are going to be demanding answers.