The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on August 3, 1996 · 22
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 22

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Issue Date:
Saturday, August 3, 1996
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22
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C2 The Ottawa Citizen, Saturday, August 3, 1996 ClTYLIFE Garbage upstart fails to perform Continued from page C 1 Both Exel and Laidlaw, the industry giant that collects most of the rest of the region's refuse, have been swamped by a sea of recyclable materials. Blue-box tonnage is up 62 per cent over last year and leaf-and-yard waste is up 150 per cent. But the problems have been most acute in Exel territory where regional work crews were even called in at one point to help clear the streets. "We think they can be doing better and they may have to staff up a little further," says Coun. Gord Hunter, a councillor who had early reservations about Exel's capacity to handle such a big territory "I'd say 90 per cent of the solution is Exel doing a better job, and 10 per cent is citizens doing a better job" of folding cardboard and sorting recyclables to prevent delays, he says. Exel's crews have been thinly spread; it didn't have enough trucks to do the work at first, and even after it ordered new trucks, some didn't have the right equipment to haul garbage. "They were late with trucks and that was a major problem," acknowledges Pat McNally, the region's director of solid waste. Worse still, the region remains in a vulnerable situation because it hasn't got a performance bond. The bond is what the region needs to guarantee that if a company defaults, its bonding company will make sure the work is done. Without a performance bond, taxpayers could be on the hook for millions of dollars in case of a default. The Exel contract does include letters of credit which the region can cash if, for some reason, the company can't fulfil its obligations. Regional politicians say the letters of credit of fer sufficient protection and there is no cause for alarm. 1 But industry experts say letters of credit don't offer the same assurance as performance bonds. They are essentially a loan from a bank and because loans are tied to a company's credit rating and assets, they are often not enough to cover all costs. "All LCs do is give you a pot of money to do the work and it may not be enough," says Steve Ness, president of the Surety Association of Canada. Talks are still going on with Exel and London Guarantee Insurance Company, the bonding agent, to resolve "difficulties" and get a signed deal. "I would prefer that it was in place and we are trying to resolve the difficulties to get it in place," says Eric Johnston, the region's deputy solicitor. Exel won the bid for the east and south end of the region because it cost $6.5 million less than Laidlaw. At Exel's request, regional council changed the terms of the original bonding arrangement to accept the letters of credit instead of the performance bond. At the same time, the region is mediating between Exel and London Guar-' antee to sort out the bonding mess. The region, eager to protect the savings accruing from the contract, feels it has no choice but to ensure Exel doesn't fail. Nor do regional officials want to face another tendering fiasco on the heels of their badly-handled winter roads maintenance contract. Earlier this summer, the region quashed a 27-year-old snow-clearing contract with the City of Ottawa and invited bids from local companies, only to go back to an exclusive deal with the city when the private sector didn't produce the desired savings. Upstart Exel had been in the business for about four years when it was plucked out of obscurity and plunged into the centre of the region's garbage business, then dominated by Laidlaw. It had the lowest bid in three of four collection zones but could get bonding for only one. That set alarm bells ringing for some but Exel got the eastern zone anyway because it was offering substantial savings. "A number of us have qualms because they are an unproven company to take on this large contract," Hunter, chair of the region's planning and environment committee, said at the time of the decision. "But their bonders have faith in them and back them for one zone, and we could do.no less." Then came further bonding problems: London Guarantee decided it wouldn't back Exel for even one zone. The garbage-collection woes followed soon after. Through it all, regional councillors have steadfastly stood by the company And they make no apologies for helping what they see as a small-business David fighting off a corporate Goliath in the form of Laidlaw. (Coincidentally, London Guarantee is the same company that provides bonding for Laidlaw). But for residents, the key issue is getting their garbage picked up, and they've been letting their councillors know they're not happy "It's not going as smoothly as would have been hoped for," says Coun. Jacques Legendre, whose entire ward is within Exel's pickup zone. Complaints to his office and the sight of Exel trucks on his own street late at night haven't diminished Legendre's confidence in the company "They are going to succeed. There's not much doubt in my mind." Payouts to BFI and the other relief pitchers helping Exel toss trash are no doubt cutting into the company's projected profits, since the region diverts to these companies the money it would pay Exel for the service. But Exel's chief creditors describe Gauthier as a model customer. Representatives of Ottawa truck dealer Whelan Ltd. and Saniquip, a Montreal supplier of garbage-crushing equipment, say they've experienced no problems providing 17 vehicles to Exel for well over $1 million. Meanwhile, Exel employees are complaining about the long hours. They say daily shifts have run as long as 14 or 15 hours, with work-weeks now running about 60 hours after an earlier stretch of 80-hour weeks when Exel took over the east-end territory in June. "When you get finished with the garbage, you have to help on the blue boxes. It's not fair," said one worker riding the back of an Exel garbage truck. "Here we work at least 60 hours and there's no overtime, no lunch break, no dinner break. We need more trucks and more men." The driver of the truck, who hopped out to help clear a neighborhood trash pile at a Blossom Park townhouse project, said Exel employees are trying to get together to discuss their working conditions but added it's tough because "nobody has any spare time." Gauthier says the company is keeping track of any overtime. And she says relief workers are brought in by supervisors at 4 p.m. on days when pick-up is running late. "We are working long hours, but (the workers) are being compensated." She says the company's workforce has grown from 30 to 60 since the east-side contract kicked in. And while she says the new routes have strained Exel's resources and demanded "a lot of organizing to get set up properly," she insists that "as we go along, it gets better and better." ' Palmer Rapids man killed while logging Citizen staff Ontario Provincial Police and Ministry of Labor officials are investigating a logging accident in which a 31-year-old man was killed after being crushed beneath a tree. Andrew Jessup of Palmer Rapids, about 150 kilometres west of Ottawa, was clearing trees south of Barry's Bay for a small logging company when the accident occurred Thursday morning. All logging deaths are investigated by the Ministry of Labor. The small town population 400 is mourning Jessup's death. The father of two was well-known in the town of and much of the annual Palmer Rapids SummerFest has been cancelled due to the tragedy Car strikes woman, son who were crossing street Citizen staff A 46-year-old woman and her nine-year-old son are in hospital with serious injuries after they were hit by a car on Bank Street near Alta Vista Drive at about 2:30 p.m. Friday Police said the pair were not at an intersection when they crossed Bank Street and were struck by a southbound car. Police are investigating the incident, but don't expect to charge the driver. The mother is in serious condition at the Ottawa General Hospital with head injuries. The boy, who suffered two broken legs, is in stable condition at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Vankleek Hill doctor faces second sex-related charge Female patient alleges sex assault in past year By Jeremy Mercer Citizen staff writer Residents of Vankleek Hill were stunned Friday when the town's doctor appeared in court on a sex-related charge the second such charge in just two weeks. On Friday, Dr. Michel Blondin was charged in connection with an alleged sexual assault on a female patient at his Vankleek Hill clinic. He was released without bail and will next appear in court Aug. 21. The charge comes just two weeks after Blondin, 43, was charged with possession of child pornography. Montreal police say he took sexually explicit pictures of a nine-year-old female patient at a second clinic he runs 60 kilo metres northeast of Montreal in Berthierville, Que. Blondin has been operating his clinic in Vankleek Hill, about 100 kilometres east of Ottawa, for four years. He is the town's only doctor. "Nobody can understand this. I can't understand it myself," says Aurel Fournier, mayor of the town of 1,500 for the past 17 years. "There was never a bad word said about him. Everybody I know really thought he was a good guy" Both the Berthierville clinic and the Vankleek Hill clinic are closed indefinitely Detective Const. Vern Gilkes of the Ontario Provincial Police says a 29-year-old woman was prompted to come forward with the sexual assault complaint because of the publicity surrounding Blondin's pornography case. The alleged assault occurred during the past year. Blondin is also under investigation by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. If his conduct is found to be improper, the College can fine him, suspend his licence or revoke it all together. Blondin's ordeal has left his Vankleek Hill patients up in the air. Now that Blondin has temporarily closed, those with medical problems have to drive to Hawkesbury "I've been making sure that his patients get their critical medicine, but beyond that I can't do much," said Paul Brooks, the town's pharmacist. "It is really hard to say what's going to happen ... Everyone around here is still a bit in shock and operating on the principle that he is innocent until proven guilty" PERMANENT CLINIC HOURS: 85 Plymouth Monday & Thursday 12:30-8:00 Tuesday 9:00-5:00 Wednesday 5:00-8:00 Friday 9:00 -12:30 For information, call: 560-7440 TUESDAY, AUGUST 6 Stats Canada 951-1055 Jean Talon Building Tunney's Pasture 9:00-11:00 12:30 - 3:00 WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 7 National Research Council 993-3118 Building M-55 Montreal Road 9:00-11:00 12:30-3:00 THURSDAY, AUGUST 8 Perth 267-4400 Royal Canadian Legion 29 Beckwith Street 2:00 - 4:30, 6:00 - 8:00 FRIDAY, AUGUST 9 Journal Towers 998-5868 3rd Floor, South Tower 300 Slater Street 9:00 -12:00 Target: 895 units G Z3 LI The Canadian Red Cross Society 1 J THE OTTAWA Citizen 20-70Off Fall & Spring Maternity Apparel Receive 12 OFF Lycra leggings with any regularly priced purchase and this ad! 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