After reading a fair bit of commentary about Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc and it’s relationship with the CEI in recent weeks, I felt it necessary to clarify some of my positions and further explain my motion on Feb 22, 2016 calling for an independent investigative audit of large capital CEI projects.
As part of my commitment to transparency, I accept the fact that my support for the Community Energy Intiative (CEI) and it’s ambitious environmental and economic goals must include a willingness to evaluate its progress. To this point, I believe taking stock in the CEI’s strengths and weaknesses in a transparent manner is an integral process for our community to undertake. This type of critical evaluation safegaurds us from leaning solely on the vision of the CEI, and allows us to progress to the question: After almost 10 years, are we achieving our goals?
As I’ve stated many times, I support the concept of local energy generation and conservation as a means of encouraging economic growth and creating competitive advantages in Guelph. Advantages that attract business investment and encourage our transition to a low carbon economy. As a point of principle however, my desire to see an initiative succeed can never supersede my commitment to transparency.
And therein lay many of my concerns regarding the CEI. Despite some of my initial optimism, over the past number of months I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with what I (and many in the communtiy) observe to be a lack of transparency surrounding certain capital intensive projects. Specifically, the governance, cost and decision making processes associated with these projects dating back to June 2010 when the Business Case Study and Memorandum of Intent (MOI) for large project implementation were affirmed and put in motion through the creation of GMHI. These mechanisms (Business Case Study and MOI) have been consistently reinforced to the community as measures that will “ensure excellence in decision making and transparency”, and achieve “higher levels of excellence in asset management”. Despite these repeated assurances however, my concerns (and those of many in the community) remain.
To be clear this is not about “killing the CEI”, which is sadly, a predictable narrative. This is about transparency. It is about disclosing the true cost of capital projects to Guelph residents and ensuring the prosperity of our community. To suggest otherwise only frustrates the process of responsibly reviewing and updating the CEI.
That is why on Feb 22, 2016 I put forward a motion to council calling on our internal auditor to administer an independent investigative audit of large capital CEI projects. My hope was that this investigative audit would answer some of my governance concerns and determine whether the decision making processes committed to in 2010 were appropriately established, well informed, based on sound business cases, and free of political interference. Unfortunately however, my motion failed by a vote of 7-5.