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BluWood sparks debate — again

A heated and contentious debate about the appropriate role of Vaughan in advocating specific products flared up again last week.

The debate began in September when Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio asked council to defer receiving information on BluWood, a product used in the construction industry, until last week’s committee of the whole meeting.

Councillors finally received the information at Monday’s council meeting, but only after an animated exchange last week.

As was the case in September, some members of council took exception to what they perceived as giving a “stamp of approval” on a product, giving it an unfair advantage.

BluWood is a wood-coating product designed to resist rot, fungus and termites. Council had asked staff to study the product’s merits for use in city projects.

The debate became animated when Ward 5 councillor Alan Shefman and others expressed concerns that city staff might be studying specific products for eventual endorsement.

“Enough with this,” a visibly agitated Shefman snapped. “I’m very perturbed by us promoting a single product by any one company.

“This is not an issue for council to deal with. … Leave it alone. No more.”

Talk of a presentation to council espousing the benefits of BluWood sometime in the new year prompted Ward 2 councillor Tony Carella to worry about such a sales pitch setting a “terrible precedent”.

“Someone’s going to come in here and do a dog and pony show on their product to council,” Carella said. “We already have a problem with frivolous and vexatious deputations — this would open up to any supplier of anything that the city could conceivably want to purchase and install on any of its properties.

“The opportunity to come in and tie up city business with stuff that belongs to staff to deal with,” he added. “I’m certainly not going to vote for anything that amounts to us agreeing to this nonsense.”

Frustaglio defended her apparent advocacy on behalf of BluWood, saying again that she is not the company’s broker.

“It is certainly not my intention to be promoting anyone’s business,” she said. “I have no idea whether this is good, bad or indifferent.

“It matters not to me, Mr. Chair.”

Councillor Peter Meffe came to her aid, saying he would welcome this kind of presentation to council on behalf of BluWood.

“I look forward to when any presentations do come to working session on this item,” Meffe said.

Vaughan Today
Online: November 18, 2007 [link]