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News   March 14, 2017   by Adam Malik

Concern over what will fill tire stewardship void


If a new program doesn’t replace the Ontario Tire Stewardship, Bob Ward fears tire dumping could return, raising the risk for another Hagersville fire.

Count Bob Ward as someone who will miss the Ontario Tire Stewardship.

The Ontario government announced it will shut the program down by the end of 2018 following a Toronto Star investigation that showed numerous nefarious activities taking place within the agency.

Suspicious money transfers, fraud allegations and wasteful spending at the executive level were uncovered by the Star. Thousands of dollars were spent on luxury trips, fine wine and donations to the provincial Liberal party, the Star’s investigation found. Its stories also exposed executive fraud allegations from bank transfers deemed questionable and highlighted by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre, a federal investigation organization that looks into money laundering and terrorism.

It “frustrated me to no end when I found out these executives were abusing this and taking this money themselves,” said Ward, owner of The Auto Guys in St. Thomas Ontario and vice president of the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario.

“We need this program because it virtually eliminates the unnecessary dumping of tires,” Ward added. “That’s what the whole thing was designed to do — to find a viable source for these tires to get recycled and brought back in, rather than be disposed of (irresponsibly). It’s an awesome program.”

The agency collects eco-fees when tires are purchased. These fees go towards costs associated with recycling tires. Ward’s fear is that people will go back to the old practice of dumping tires in empty fields or on the side of the road and we could see another Hagersville tire fire, which burned for 17 days in 1990. It drove 4,000 people from their homes and cost more than $15 million (more than $25 million in today’s dollars) to fight.

“That was horrific,” Ward recalled.

“We need this program because it virtually eliminates the unnecessary dumping of tires.”

Bob Ward, The Auto Guys and AARO

About $70 million is collected by retailers from consumers for the agency every year, according to the Star. Ward would like to see a third party come in and oversee a new system of recycling tires and have fees dropped if so much revenue is being collected through the program.

“People really don’t mind,” paying the fees, he continued. And they’re used to it. “It’s on everything. I mean, it’s on electronics, it’s on oil filters, it’s on a container that oil products come in. Personally, I don’t mind paying these fees knowing that these products are going to be responsibly disposed of or recycled.”

The loss of the program may not impact the aftermarket industry, but Ward sees possible long-lasting ripple effects elsewhere. Many businesses have been successful in using recycled tires for different products, such as in asphalt, playground pads, track and field tracks, ground cover in landscaping and others, he said. “And that’s all because of the program.”

Should the option of recycled tires no longer be available, “then these people are going to have to renegotiate where they get their source rubbers from. That’s a big thing and it’s going to drive the price up.”


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12 Comments » for Concern over what will fill tire stewardship void
  1. R.J says:

    Bob : perfectly said : WHY scrap a program when it works – maybe an association can take this program over with policing by the government?

  2. Ron Brown, (Auto-Know Training) says:

    They don’t need to scrap the program, they need to clean up the administration group who are taking advantage of the fact that they can abscond with the funds for their own personal enjoyment.

  3. Essie says:

    It’s like any other good program that top executives steal from it & people pay the price at the end, instead of putting the real thieves in jail & find right people for the job.
    Unfortunately nobody in this government listens & cares.

  4. Kim Stankiewicz says:

    Another example of why government intervention doesn’t work. Based on the Star’s investigation people should be going to jail but it’s doubtful anyone will be held accountable.
    It makes you wonder why there is such a robust underground economy and nobody wants to pay their taxes. It makes me spitting mad to see my tax dollars wasted and then they say they need more money to run the program.

  5. Sid Spencer says:

    I don’t have a problem with stewardships. I do have a problem with the $ 50 million dollar surplus in the OTS fund. Do you think that the fee was a little too high? Also everytime the fee was reduced, there was never any rebates back to the businesses that had paid the stewardship at the old rate !

  6. John Huenemoerder says:

    Being an automotive facility and a generator of used tires, I thought the program was fine. The website and the processes to arrange tire collection was poor and it seemed odd that if you weren’t punctual on the submissions of a claim you weren’t paid. It was also questionable that every meeting had limited seating, so please don’t come was the message. Of course if something is making money there seems to always be that few that are eating well. I sure hope that the government stays out of overseeing the program and maybe they allow some already accountable business managers who have a vested interest in the program oversee its’ operations.

  7. frank says:

    The OTS was created as a IFO ( Industry Funded Organization) which was supposed to be a “Not for Profit” entity.
    The problem is that they didn’t have to report to anyone. They can and did write their own rules and not accountable until now, once they got caught with numerous allegations. . The program started in 2009 charging the highest recycling fees in North America. Over time the rates have come down but obviously not enough as they have the $50M surplus- by the way, they have had substantial surpluses for years however they did what they want.
    Its a good program overall (a few improvements wouldn’t hurt) but needs an oversight committee with total transparency and accountability.

  8. Tony says:

    What no one is aware of is that the Haulers of the scrap tires, who collect and deliver scrap tires to processors, are facing bankruptcy due to OTS not paying enough out of their $60 million profit. Over 80+ Haulers are going to lose their businesses. We ourselves employed 11 people over 2 years ago, they have since been laid-off with no future in sight for our employees or our business as the rate has dropped that much. Before we were forced to register with OTS, we had a viable business – now it is worth nothing. OTS concept works, greed of Andrew Horsman does not.

  9. Bob Ward says:

    It appears the lack of accountability and paper trails for money taken in and spent are not audited. This seems typical in all levels of government. We simply have to look at the recent scandals involving senators, Prime Minister, and best of all Hydro One. Until checks and balances are put in place none of any good programs put in place will work properly. Imagine how the stewardship fees could be spent on our highways instead of political party donations. If people could see the money benefiting us then the fees paid would be worthwhile. That is the way it is supposed to work.

  10. Shawn Greenberg says:

    I would really like to see the new plan the Govt is planning to roll out. As a repair shop with limited space, I have no wish to be stuck with a bunch of used tires and no place for them to go for the foreseeable future.

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