Landfill lifespan drops to one year

MORRISBURG – Once again, time is running out for the South Dundas Matilda landfill site. But this time, it’s a lot quicker than anyone anticipated.

Over the 2020 year the Matilda landfill site accepted 7,267 cubic meters of waste which is about 20 per cent more than the previous year.

In a landfill which started the year with an estimated lifespan of 2.6 years, seeing a double-digit increase in waste received is not good news, and requires immediate action.

“With this increase in volume, Matilda landfill now has around one year remaining,” Danielle Watson, director of environmental services told council at its February 1st meeting.

The immediate plan of action is to apply to the province for an amendment to the existing site. The expansion of 40,000 cubic meters does not expand the existing waste footprint but increases the height of the existing waste mound.

She speculated that the 20 per cent increase is due to a number of factors including this being the first full year since the Williamsburg landfill site closure which left South Dundas with only one landfill site at Matilda. Also through the COVID-19 pandemic people are spending more time at home thus generating more waste than usual. Finally, tipping fees at the landfill were low from January to October 2020.

Should this 40,000 cubic meter expansion be approved by the province, it will give South Dundas an additional five years of capacity at the Matilda landfill. That buys the municipality time to either pursue future landfill options such as changing the Matilda landfill site into a transfer station, which is a five year process, or applying for a 100,000 cubic meter expansion, which is a three year process.

The budget implications of this first 40,000 cubic meter expansion amount to about $46,000, mostly consisting of fees for consulting work necessary to the application process.

“Even though this gives us five years, I still think we need to get pretty aggressive with diversion efforts,” said South Dundas deputy mayor Kirsten Gardner.

Watson said that during upcoming budget deliberations she plans to recommend a few new diversion efforts such as the diversion of furniture and the diversion of construction material. “With that, hopefully we can get more than five years out of the landfill,” said Watson.

“This 40,000 cubic meter expansion is the route to go,” said South Dundas councillor Lloyd Wells. “We’re just buying time.”

He added that turning the Matilda site into a transfer station is coming. “We have no choice, this will just give us time to prepare to go about finding the cheapest way to get the transfer station.”

“Now we’re down to a year left,” said South Dundas councillor Archie Mellan. “We’re not in a position to do anything other than accept this 40,000 cubic meter expansion. I wish we had a better plan so we didn’t have these things jumping out at us all the time.”

“I have no issue with the 40,000 cubic meter expansion,” said South Dunas mayor Steven Byvelds. “We’re running out of time again. But, I don’t want this to be a crux.”

He added that they all campaigned on wanting to fix the landfill situation and he expects them to decide this summer to make a decision on how they will do that. “This summer we will make the decision one way or another whether it will be a transfer station or expansion.”

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.