Waste Management and Dumpsters
Readers will recall that two years ago the Municipality tried to replace the rural dumpsters with curb side pick-up and a user-pay fee. Further, in order to prevent bagged garbage from being scattered by animals, residents would be required to buy individual $300 bear proof roadside containers.
This proposal was not popular among residents who already felt burdened by annual property tax increases and SEPO led a successful fight against removing the dumpsters.
Once again, with the election behind us, the Municipality is hatching another plan. Earlier this year Gamsby and Mannerow, consultants from Owen Sound, were hired by the Municipality to prepare a Long-term Waste Management Plan. This was presented to the Municipal staff last summer and, presumably after considerable input from them, it was finally presented to the Waste Diversion Group, a committee of Council, in the Fall.
The Waste Diversion Group (a committee of local residents) had prepared its own Waste Diversion Plan in November 2009. It did not recommend immediate replacement of dumpsters with curb side pick-up. Instead it focussed on what the Municipality itself could do to reduce waste by adopting a “zero-waste philosophy” which included education and improved signage, significant improvements to the current re-cycling programs, and exploring partnerships and opportunities for diverting more recyclable materials from the landfill sites. These recommendations were ignored in favour of removing dumpsters and expanding curb side pick-up, which the public, subsequently, soundly rejected.
You may wonder why the Municipality is so determined to remove the dumpsters, which is a significantly cheaper form of collection system than curb side pick up. The root of the problem is the shortage of landfill space. There are three landfill sites in the municipality. At the current rate of use St. Edmunds will close in ten years, Eastnor in about 12 years, and Lindsay in about 16 years. Assembling the land and paying for the minimum five year approval process for a new landfill site will be extremely expensive and it will significantly increase property taxes for all residents of the municipality.
Furthermore, the geology of the peninsula means that any new landfill site must be in the former Eastnor township. Consequently, the remaining space at the existing landfill sites represents a valuable but decreasing asset to all taxpayers.
It is believed by the municipality that, because they are unregulated, dumpsters allow more recyclable waste to find its way to the landfill site than is the case with curb side pick-up. It is also believed to be easier to control the amount of residential waste that finds its way into the landfill site by introducing a user-pay fee through the ‘bag tag’ system. There is no question that these views are reinforced by the actions of residents, cottage renters, or businesses who leave appliances, large items like furniture, and recyclables, etc. at the dumpsters. However, the one thing we know for certain is that the municipality does not know much for certain. There are few reliable statistics on waste in the municipality. Most of the assumptions about waste are derived from Provincial averages, which do not always apply to the MNBP. Almost nothing is known about waste generation and recycling in the industrial and commercial sector of the municipality. This is complicated by the municipal practice of rolling all tourist generated waste into the poorly understood industrial and commercial sector.
In addition to the lack of good data, particularly about industrial and commercial waste, a further problem is that the Municipality has no enforcement by-laws related to waste disposal in dumpsters.
When a person is observed wrongfully disposing of waste at the rural dumpsters or elsewhere (and this frequently happens) they cannot be charged with an offence. Thus, in the two years since the Council’s own committee recommended sensible measures for improving the diversion of waste nothing significant has been done by Council to conserve our valuable and diminishing landfill sites, other than to commission a second report
The new waste management plan, will be presented to Council in January 2012 after which the public will be allowed to read it. There will be a public meeting, located at the municipal office on Lindsay Road 5, miles from where most taxpayers live. In spite of this inconvenience, we urge all taxpayers who may be concerned about waste diversion, Council’s approach to the enforcement of waste disposal or diversion measures, the eagerness of the municipality to expand the expensive curb side pick-up with an user pay system, the removal of dumpsters, or the imminent increase in our taxes as the need for a new landfill site approaches, we urge you to pass your views on to the Mayor and Council, if not by attending the public meeting, then at least in writing.
Follow the Deputy Mayor’s blog for information on how to get a copy of the report and for information on when the public meeting will take place at email@example.com.