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Councillors share concerns over digester

Ajax Mayor, along with other councillors concerned with region owning the new facility

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

As Durham Region moves forward with its plans for an anaerobic digester, the question for regional councillors lies in if the municipality should be the sole owner.

Council was recently provided with an update on the status of the facility, and Ajax Mayor Shaun Collier voiced his concern about who should own the new facility.

After listening to a staff presentation, Collier said, “I’m still not convinced we should own the facility.”

While he acknowledged Durham needs to build the digester, his apprehensions lay in the year-to-year costs.

In the report given to council, staff note the digester will cost approximately $19.3 million to maintain in its first year, and costs could increase by another $15 million to $26 million per year for debenture financing costs.

“To me, $15 million a year is not minor,” said Collier.

However, Oshawa Ward 2 regional councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri disagreed.

He noted the province had previously told the region to “deal with our own waste.”

While there are a number of companies which are looking to build the anaerobic digester, he isn’t comfortable with that.

Marimpietri said this is because it doesn’t allow the region to “control its own destiny.”

Clarington councillor Joe Neal raised an amendment which adds the option for a long-term contract for a facility owned by a third party.

“We’d be negligent to not at least look,” said Collier.

Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster disagreed with the amendment, noting he wants regional control of the anaerobic digester, as “garbage is always controversial.”

Along with Foster and Marimpietri, several other councillors spoke in support of the region owning the facility.

Ultimately, the amendment was defeated.

Neal also queried about where the facility will end up, noting municipalities will be anxious to host it.

Staff noted they have yet to choose a site, but director of environmental services John Presta said the facility will likely be in Durham Region.

Collier then asked for monthly updates on the status of the anaerobic digester moving forward.