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Don’t reward subpar work

We may be into the econd month of 2017, but for Covanta, the calendar is still looking back at 2016.

At the end of this month, the New Jersey-based operator of the Durham York Energy Centre is due to hand in its year-end evaluation for the incinerator. And it is with that report that may see Covanta come to the region with their hands out.

That’s because as part of the year-end evaluation process, the owners of the facility – Durham and York regions, although the prior owns the lion’s share – have the option to give a performance bonus to Covanta, or possibly even hold some cash back.

Based on a system that adds points for various infractions both big and small, Covanta could see as much as two per cent of the site’s operating fee – about $330,000 – head its way, or potentially the same amount held back if its score is bad enough.

And looking at that grading system, there should be no way that Covanta receives any money. Under the grading system, Covanta could be hit with 76 demerit points – for exceeding any environmental and operational aspects.

And the incident at the site that took place in May, when tests found that the incinerator was pumping out more than 13 times the allowed amount of dioxins and furans, definitely falls into that category.

This act alone, not including cost overruns, fires and more that have plagued the oft-delayed site, should be enough to void any bonuses heading Covanta’s way. For 2016, about half of the year saw the incinerator under an abatement plan to try and fix the problems detected in May’s tests.

Even though this performance bonus is a small drop in the bucket compared to the overall price of the facility – nearly $300 million – it offers the potential that the region could be seen as rewarding that the region could be seen as rewarding substandard work. For a region that values its financial integrity, it would be unwise to hand over a sum, no matter how small, to reward work that is below par.

Now, the report is not yet in the hands of the incinerator’s owners and likely won’t be for a couple more weeks, but now is a time to remind them that they need to hold Covanta accountable for what was ultimately a bad year on top of other bad years for this facility.

 

The city has lost a legend

To say that Nancy Diamond was an integral part of Oshawa’s history would be an understatement.

In a career that spanned across three decades, Diamond did everything from serving as a councillor at both the city and regional levels to sitting as Oshawa’s mayor for 12 years. But what she may be most remembered for is how much she gave back to the city she so loved – working with numerous charitable groups, whether it be through sitting on the Oshawa Senior Citizen Centres’ board to handing out meals with Community Care Durham’s Meals on Wheels program.

Talk to anyone at city hall or regional headquarters, and chances are they will have a story to tell about Diamond.

This city and this region have lost a legend, and Diamond’s efforts to make the community that much better will be sorely missed.