With the city pleading guilty to releasing odours from its now mothballed compost plant on Dunlop Road, the first order of business for city hall is to apologize to residents of the area who had long complained about the smell. The second is to seriously consider what role the city should play in the running of a new plant, as the process to select a new technology and eventually restart operations unfolds.

Considering its record in the operation of the original plant, it's best that the city have no management role if a new plant comes to fruition. Under city management, diversion rates were lower than similar plants that followed the Guelph prototype, and despite warnings, protocols weren't followed, and that led to the release of odours, the corrosion of the composting plant's roof and its ultimate demise.

If this sounds like we're comparing the city to Homer Simpson being entrusted with a key responsibility at the Springfield nuclear plant, that's not our intention. With the 1996 opening of the ill-fated wet plant, the city was on its way to engendering a waste-sorting culture that became the envy of the nation. Outsiders are still in awe of our three-bags-full system, even if confidence has been tested locally since the first green bags of banana peels were trucked away to that New York state incinerator.

We still believe all of the potential options for dealing with our compostable waste -- including partnerships with other communities -- must be exhausted before a decision is made about the future of the composting plant site. If, in the end, the city decides that the best course of action is to resurrect operations there, an outside company should manage the facility.

Some communities have no qualms about using an out-of-town solution when it comes to getting rid of their trash, but that has rightly caused unease here. Guelph residents appear to favour dealing with our waste locally, and that's commendable. Let's ensure that in the end, we place the management of all our waste in the right hands.