Editorial: 9,000 elephants in the room

South Dundas will run out of space for its garbage, your garbage, by December 2021. That was the message delivered to council last week by WSP, a consultant hired to look at our landfill situation.

The two landfills in South Dundas have been identified as major issues for years. We are out of space to dump our trash. Previous municipal councils have known about this issue, but chose to do nothing, even when presented with options by former staff. Now South Dundas is at the point where we can no longer shove our fingers into our collective ears, put the report on a shelf, and pretend there are no issues.

According to WSP, at our present rate of disposal, with our recycling program running at its current level, we will have to deal with 4,900 metric tonnes of garbage. That is equal to approximately 9,000 elephants, or 920 48-foot transport trailers of garbage.

The rubber has indeed hit the road. We have to deal with our trash, and we have less than three years to figure out a solution.

Of the nine options presented by WSP, the most cost-effective one appears to be to let others deal with our mess. Trucking our trash to municipal mega dumps is cheaper than dealing with our garbage locally. Great for us, not so great for people living near those mega dumps in Ottawa, Limoges, or if built, in Edwardsburgh-Cardinal.

Other options for dealing with our garbage will cost more. Expanding the Williamsburg landfill will cost over $2 million, while schemes like incineration or gasification would easily cost more than $10 million to put in place. All of these options would take time, far longer than the two-to-three years remaining before we run out of space in Matilda.

What can we do? The fact is, we must all do a better job at recycling. Increasing use of our existing recycling program will help keep trash out of the dump. Expanding waste diversion programs are a good place to start.

And we have to accept that we will all have to start paying more for what we dispose of. Had there been better planning, South Dundas would already be in the process of implementing a solution.

The garbage isn’t going away: the dump is not getting any bigger. As the municipality works to implement an immediate solution, we must all take responsibility. We have to do better.

Since you’re here…

… Thanks for reading this article. Local news is important. We hope that you continue to support local news by reading The Leader, online and in print. Please consider subscribing to the print edition of the newspaper. Click here to subscribe today.