Is Re­gion look­ing to sell its re­cy­cling plant?

The Welland Tribune - - Local - BILL SAWCHUK Wil­liam.Sawchuk @ni­a­garadailies.com 905-225-1630 | @bil­l_­s­tan­dard

Ni­a­gara Re­gion’s pub­lic works com­mit­tee has re­jected a re­quest from Ni­a­gara Re­cy­cling to de­fer work on a plan that may end up rec­om­mend­ing the sale of the fa­cil­ity.

Coun­cil­lors voted to go ahead with what they are call­ing an “op­por­tu­nity work plan” for the Ni­a­gara Falls plant the Re­gion owns, but Ni­a­gara Re­cy­cling op­er­ates.

The plan’s ag­gres­sive time-line in­cludes a val­u­a­tion of the plant by the end of Au­gust and the prepa­ra­tion of a ne­go­ti­ated re­quest for pro­posal to sell the plant by Oc­to­ber or early Novem­ber.

Coun­cil will ul­ti­mately de­cide whether to go ahead with the RFP.

The de­ci­sion left Norm Kraft, CEO of Ni­a­gara Re­cy­cling, dis­ap­pointed and per­plexed.

Kraft said with the pro­vin­cial elec­tion un­der­way, there is un­cer­tainty about pro­posed changes to the blue box pro­gram and whether the next gov­ern­ment will en­act them.

The changes in­clude shift­ing 100 per cent of the cost of the re­cy­cling pro­gram to pro­duc­ers, and away from mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and prop­erty tax­pay­ers.

Pro­duc­ers and tax­pay­ers cur­rently split the costs.

Kraft said un­til the province firms up those plans, the Re­gion should adopt a wait-and-see po­si­tion.

“They claim they aren’t sell­ing it, but I think that is the ob­jec­tive here,” Kraft said in an in­ter­view af­ter Tues­day’s pub­lic works meet­ing. “I don’t un­der­stand why this is hap­pen­ing. Why there is such a rush? There is no clar­ity from the province. There is no agree­ment with the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and the stew­ards (pro­duc­ers) as to how the fu­ture will look.

“Our con­cern is that once the plant is sold, they will never have this pub­lic as­set un­der their con­trol again.

“For 22 years Ni­a­gara Re­cy­cling has been their part­ner. We have done so much for them. We have done so much for the com­mu­nity. When you look at all the or­ga­ni­za­tions we fund, if we are not here, those or­ga­ni­za­tions such as Mo­men­tum Choir and Red Roof Re­treat will come to an end. They won’t have the funds to con­tinue.”

Ni­a­gara Re­cy­cling has 90 em­ploy­ees and is an in­dus­try leader, Kraft said.

It pro­cessed more than 77,0000 tonnes of re­cy­clable ma­te­rial in 2017. About 52 per cent of the ma­te­rial is from Ni­a­gara. The rest comes from con­tracts on which the fa­cil­ity bids.

Kraft also high­lighted some of the in­no­va­tions and de­vel­op­ments at the plant that in­crease rev­enue, in­clud­ing the sale of Grade A alu­minium that yields more than $250,000 a year and turn­ing re­cy­cled glass into an in­dus­trial abra­sive used in sand­blast­ing.

Aside from sell­ing the op­er­a­tion to pri­vate in­ter­ests, the Re­gion could en­ter into a lease ar­range­ment or a joint ven­ture, a re­port said.

A mo­tion ap­proved Tues­day gives staff the flex­i­bil­ity to ne­go­ti­ate one of those out­comes within the RFP process, some­thing ex­ist­ing by­laws didn’t per­mit.

St. Catharines Coun. Tim Rigby said the Re­gion must ex­plore its op­tions.

“The rec­om­men­da­tion is that we take take steps to be ahead of the game, and be pre­pared when those ini­tia­tives are put in place by the province, what­ever they are,” he said.

Rigby added the Re­gion still has an an ex­cel­lent re­la­tion­ship with Ni­a­gara Re­cy­cling and a lot of work needs to take place be­fore coun­cil con­sid­ers whether to is­sue the RFP.

“It has been a good part­ner­ship we have had for 22 years that has been noth­ing but suc­cess. How­ever, we need to know the op­tions.”

BILL SAWCHUK THE ST. CATHARINES STAN­DARD

Norm Kraft of Ni­a­gara Re­cy­cling ad­dresses Ni­a­gara Re­gion’s pub­lic works com­mit­tee Tues­day.

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