Peak oil lost in city bureaucracy
detailed instructions from councillors, city staff appear to have
carried out almost no follow-up to the peak oil report presented by
Richard Gilbert in late April. More than six months later, none of
the five required staff reports has found its way back to council.
November 8, 2006
predicted fuel prices will at least quadruple in the next dozen
years. He called on council to transform Hamilton into an electric
city and make energy the guiding principle of its planning decisions.
In response, councillors unanimously adopted a five-part resolution
on April 28 that provided specific instructions for follow-up actions
by city staff.
one of those items has generated any visible activity – and
that was a decision to delay reports on energy saving initiatives for
a full year. Staff had been asked to advise councillors by June on
the feasibility of “reducing energy use by two-thirds by 2018”,
on using electric buses on the proposed new bus rapid transit routes,
and on extending “energy conservation measures currently being
employed by Hamilton Emergency Services” to other city
departments. At the June 19 meeting of the public works committee,
the report deadlines were changed to June 2007.
requirement for a three part report to the planning and economic
development committee didn’t even get added to the committee’s
outstanding business list. That part of the council resolution asked
for investigation of requiring energy efficiency for all new
buildings constructed in the city, adding an “energy cluster”
to the city’s economic development strategy, and considering
“possible use of a district energy
system [and] re-use of waste materials amongst industries” as
they begin to locate in the Glanbrook Business Park.
a report on Gilbert’s central recommendation for a more
detailed follow-up study appears to have been abandoned. The April 28
council resolution asked that “a terms of reference and cost
analysis” for the study be presented at the May 18 meeting, but
this didn’t happen, and hasn’t happened since.
same is true of a report on any federal
or provincial funding opportunities that might assist the city in
preparing for extreme fuel prices.
instruction required staff to forward Gilbert’s report to the
boards of Hamilton Utilities Corporation and Horizon Utilities
Corporation, the wholly-owned energy subsidiaries of the city. The
agendas and minutes of those boards are not posted to their
respective websites so it is unclear if this has taken place.
original delivery of Gilbert’s report was also controversial,
with charges that staff misled councillors, delayed the report and
tried to have the content changed. Councillors originally requested
the peak oil study during the aerotropolis debate in June 2005 and
asked that it be delivered prior to fall budget discussions but it
didn’t arrive until after that process was finished.
delivered a draft in October, but staff comments didn’t go back
until late January, after repeated enquiries by Flamborough
councillor Dave Braden. He told a radio interviewer last week that
the entire peak oil issue “was treated by the city manager and
the mayor as a farce.”
on The Other Side, a CFMU talk show, Braden recounted how he
had been refused a copy of the draft report by city manager Glen
Peace who told Braden that “the report didn’t belong to
the city; it was the intellectual property of the author”.
Braden was publicly advised in early January that staff comments on
the draft had been sent to Gilbert, a statement later amended by
Peace to late January after Braden called Gilbert and found he hadn’t
received the comments.
charges that Peace and Mayor Di Ianni were opposed to the examination
of the implications of peak oil for Hamilton. “They
wanted to hush hush the whole thing because it would – if there
is going to be a serious change in the economic structure of our
economy because of fuel and the availability of cheap fuel, one of
the first things that could be affected – and everybody that is
knowledgeable or interested knows this – is air travel,
particularly air freight.”
role played by city staff drew particular fire from Braden. “What
this demonstrates is that, in fact, the city is not running in an
honourable way; it’s not managing with integrity. The
professionalism is gone.”
interview has been
transcribed by CATCH. The council
resolutions on Gilbert’s report are on the city website.