Editorial – User-pay best for garbage

Last week, at the August 10th South Dundas council meeting, a draft plan was presented which will move South Dundas citizens closer to paying the full cost of waste management. This draft plan will see a considerable increase in tipping fees at the Matilda Landfill, and in many cases will more than double the cost to use the facility.

Part of the proposed fee schedule is a $10 minimum charge to pay for work being done at the landfills, and construction waste has been separated into its own set of charges. To dispose of scrap metal and tires, the minimum fee will be charged, and the cost to get rid of mattresses, couches, and appliances with refrigerant will also increase. The cost to get rid of the average eight foot long trailer with garbage will change from $15 to $30. If that trailer has construction material from home renovations, the old $15 charge will jump to $100 to dispose of it.

Reaction by some in the community has been sharply critical of this proposed plan. Many commenters on The Leader’s social media opined that South Dundas’ ditches will soon become filled with garbage should this plan be adopted. What is the preferred option then?

For decades, citizens of this area have been able to dispose of waste with impunity: they barely paid the cost of disposal. While many municipalities have charged for large trailer loads of garbage to be disposed of and refused construction waste, South Dundas has not.

Council after council has kicked this waste management file down the road, burying their heads in the sand – or the trash – refusing to deal with it until now. South Dundas has a garbage problem. One landfill was closed last year and is costing us around $1 million to cap it. The other landfill is near capacity and its expansion is slated to cost about the same. That is a lot of money to deal with our trash.

South Dundas really has no choice but to move forward with higher fees and to adopt a full user-pay system. It is our garbage and we need to pay for it. Landfills are expensive to operate. The alternative, trucking away our garbage for others to deal with, would cost nearly as much. And it is not right to send our garbage away to be someone else’s problem. That is akin to dumping our trash into a far away ditch.

There is a simple solution to paying more for waste management – waste less. That sounds simplistic, but it is true and is one of the benefits of a user-pay system. You don’t have to pay for what you don’t throw out. We all need to do better when it comes to what becomes trash, and what doesn’t. A user-pay system that recovers the cost of operation from those who use it, is the best way forward.

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