Friday, May 15, 2020


This report was published in 2017 and purports to be an analysis or investigation of the situation as it existed in late 2016 in Elmira, Ontario. I have some issues with their alleged time frame as it does not jive with the realities of what the authors refer to as the CAG or Citizens Advisory Group. That acronym and full name by the way are a construct of the authors as that name /acronym have never existed here in Elmira. The authors are three professors from the University of Waterloo namely Philpot, Johnson and Hipel. Prof Keith Hipel I believe is a very well known hydrogeologist and extremely well respected in his field.

Also I have some issues with the focus of this report because quite frankly I don't fully understand it. It is a strategic analysis of an environmental conflict between Uniroyal Chemical, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, local government (municipal/regional) and local citizens organized into an advisory committee. This "strategic analysis" is conducted using the Graph Model for Conflict Resolution (GMCR). While I follow most of their text, I found the bottom right hand side of page 142 to be incomprehensible. It is a mathematically expressed description of human behaviour under conflict that can be used to predict outcomes. As a layperson, albeit far more knowledgeable about the history, facts and science involved with the Elmira Water Crisis of 1989 than 99 1/2 % of the residents past or present, I am still stumped as to the efficacy, and or details of this purported ability to predict outcomes. I'm not suggesting that it is "piled higher and deeper", the derogatory expression of some people towards PhDs. Instead I am simply admitting my lack of psychological expertise or knowledge that would likely assist me in a better understanding of this report.

There are however still two problems with this paper. Dr. Richard (Dick) Jackson was the Chair of the brand new Technical Advisory Committee (TAG) from September 2015 until his resignation of December 2016. While TAG was appointed under disgusting, dishonest and contemptible circumstances by mayor Sandy Shantz (aided and abetted by former councillor Mark Bauman), nevertheless Dr. Jackson was the real deal. In fact he was far and away the most knowledgeable and experienced Chair ever of the local citizens committee. In my opinion Dr. Dan Holt was the second best although his technical experience, like everyone else's, could not hold a candle to Dr. Jackson's. Not so much of a whisper in this paper regarding Dr. Jackson and TAG although the time frame of the report is " it existed in late 2016... ." That's weird.

Secondly this paper unfortunately although unsurprisingly relies on one involved citizen (Ms. Bryant) whose motivations have become suspect not just with me but with numerous other local citizens. These motivations/biases have resulted in factual errors in this report including the failure to acknowledge excellent work done by other "Citizen Advisory Groups" such as the last Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) from 2011-September 2015. Also as stated absolutely no mention of TAG and Dr. Jackson. The new Chair of TAG, Tiffany Svensson did not start until January 2017. Other self-serving errors by Ms. Bryant include her input suggesting that the "penultimate" CPAC was the one that she and former councillor and failed mayoralty candidate Pat McLean ran from 2000 until 2011 when the new mayor refused to reappoint them to CPAC. More recent reports and documentaries have included a larger cross-section of local citizens (including Ms. Bryant) and have been superior as a result. Her long term bias against sharing the spotlight has diminished favourable results for local citizens and for the environment.

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