Lawyers Get City Out Of Plasco Deal

- March 3rd, 2015

City clerk and solicitor Rick O’Connor informed council tonight lawyers have managed to immediately trash the deal with Plasco Energy Group for the proposed commercial plant. The outstanding issue is the $300,000 letter of credit to decommission the test plant on Trail Rd., as O’Connor explains in this memo.

At the Council meeting of February 25th, 2015, as part of the consideration of the Environment Committee’s report entitled, “Update on Plasco Long-Term Waste Conversion Agreement”, City Council approved the following recommendation (being Recommendation 3):

“That City Council approve the termination of the Long-Term Waste Conversion Agreement and Ancillary Agreements with the Plasco Energy Group (Plasco) as further described in the report.”

I am writing to advise that, as a result of out-of-court negotiations, the City has been able to secure the termination of the Plasco Long-Term Waste Conversion Agreements (for the commercial facility), effective immediately.

As well, the City’s Motion with respect to the other outstanding matters related to Plasco was before the Court in Toronto this morning. The Motion was adjourned in order to facilitate the ongoing negotiation process and it remains before the Court. It should be noted that an adjournment is not a cancellation. It simply gives the parties more time to finalize matters without using any court resources.

Plasco’s lawyers were originally opposing the Court hearing the City’s motion, which had been scheduled for this morning. In order to facilitate today’s settlement with respect to the termination of the Agreement for the commercial facility, the City’s lawyers agreed to undertake further negotiations related to the timing for the termination of the demonstration facility lease.

An adjournment with respect to the City’s motion to terminate the Demonstration Facility has, therefore, been granted by the Court. This extension has been granted without prejudice to the legal rights of the City to further pursue this matter in Court.

Finally, with the cooperation of Plasco and the Court appointed monitor, the City is attempting to conclude an arrangement to ensure that the City’s decommissioning security of $300,000 for the Demonstration Facility is preserved and immune from any other creditors in the CCAA proceeding.

As always, I will continue to update Members of Council with respect to any further developments on this matter.

M. Rick O’Connor

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling, on Instagram at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Video: Blais Explains Latest Trillium Line Troubles

- March 3rd, 2015

I can’t imagine it’s been a fun two days for Coun. Stephen Blais as chair of the transit commission. The new Trillium Line service is having problems for the second day in a row. Naturally, reporters were waiting to speak with him after today’s finance and economic development committee meeting.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling, on Instagram at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

What Will Change With Watson Away? Not Much.

- March 2nd, 2015

Mayor Jim Watson talks with his chief of staff Serge Arpin during the first full council meeting of the 2010-2014 term on Dec. 8, 2010. (Errol McGihon/Ottawa Sun)

I have had several questions over the past few days about how City Hall will function with Mayor Jim Watson away recovering from a pelvic fracture.

Truth is, nothing much will change.

The city will see more of Orléans Coun. Bob Monette and Bay Coun. Mark Taylor in their roles as deputy mayors. Watson’s office has already filled up their schedules for the week. As a bonus, they occasionally get to use Watson’s driver to attend events while His Worship is out of commission.

It’s not like one of the deputies will take over the LRT negotiations with the National Capital Commission.

Watson is still in contact with councillors and staff on city files and you know his office will be working closely with council ahead of the March 11 budget vote.

You could probably make the case that Watson’s chief of staff Serge Arpin is the actual fill-in mayor while the Big Guy is away. It’s widely observed around councillors’ row that Watson and his office oversee everything, so his staff will be tasked with implementing His Worship’s agenda.

Of course, quipsters at this morning’s unfortunate Trillium Line launch were saying the reason it didn’t go well was because Watson wasn’t there. He was scheduled to be part of the event prior to his accident.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling, on Instagram at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Latest Council Update On Plasco

- February 25th, 2015

Here’s the latest information on the Plasco deal from the city manager, sent to council late yesterday afternoon. That $300,000 could be in jeopardy and the city has brought in outside lawyers to fight for taxpayers in court:

Plasco Memo Feb 24 2015 Final

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling, on Instagram at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

New Head Techie Coming To This “Digital City”

- February 23rd, 2015

The City of Ottawa has hired a new chief information officer, a position that’s responsible for all the information technology programs.

In other words, the city’s head techie.

Charles Duffett begins his new job March 2 after spending more than 30 years in both the public and private sectors.

The CIO position has been pretty low-profile and it took some time to hire a new permanent boss since the last one left.

But it’s a pretty important job, especially since the city wants to use technology to streamline its service delivery.

Plus, the general hipness and credibility of organizations are usually judged, on the surface, by things like web services and social media presence. The city’s website, although it has improved, has been an annoyance of councillors for years.

Deputy city manager Steve Kanellakos described Duffett as “a very personable individual” who’s apparently pumped up about joining City Hall.

“We’ve teed him up with the whole notion of becoming and enhancing the work we’re doing about becoming a digital city,” Kanellakos told council’s IT subcommittee today. “He’s very much bought into that challenge about how do we move forward on our web, how do we get more innovation into the organization, so he’s quite excited about the opportunities.”

Kanellakos showed Duffett what IT has been doing over the past four years.

“I gave him all that material before offering him the job, before he made the decision, and he thinks we’re leaders in government right now in terms of the things we have implemented and what we can use to build upon,” Kanellakos said.

Duffett was most recently the CIO at the Canadian Advance Technology Alliance. You can read all about his experience and education on this announcement from when he was hired at CATA.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling, on Instagram at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.