Editorial: Long term cost to waste management

Soon enough, South Dundas’ waste management issues are going to be someone else’s problem – at least for where the garbage will be put. After many plans, reports, and time spent by successive councils, South Dundas’ trash will be shipped to North Stormont’s backyard. Council approved a plan to divert curbside pickup of residential garbage and to curtail non-residential sources of garbage from the Matilda Landfill by July 1. Afterwards, the GFL Environmental mega-dump in Moose Creek will receive our trash, as the municipality plans to close its final landfill within the next couple of years.

The direction from council at their January 24 meeting sets in motion major changes to a service provided to residents, but locks South Dundas into some long term costs that future councils will have little option but to pay for.

South Dundas has had a municipal waste issue predating the creation of the municipality. When amalgamation occurred over 25 years ago, curbside pickup was expanded from the villages to the entire township: there was little thought given to how fast the landfills would be filled. There has been little appetite or direction from councils since to act on changes needed for a long-term solution – even when clearly thought out plans were presented by knowledgeable people in the field.

The worst instance of this was during the 2014-18 term of council. A newly-hired staff member with the required waste management knowledge presented a logical and costed out long term strategy. The council of the day buried their collective heads in the trash, resulting in that staff member leaving in frustration. The problem did not go away.

The most recent past term of council, after having to spend over $1 million to close the Williamsburg Landfill, opted to not eliminate Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional garbage at our remaining landfill. This helped contribute to a seven year deadline for expanding or closing the dump quickly dropping to just 2.2 years. There has been little done in 25 years to encourage more use of recycling and other waste diversion efforts.

South Dundas’ waste management woes have become simpler, but much more costly. By soon closing and capping the Matilda Landfill, there will be continuous monitoring requirements that will drain on municipal resources. In sending our trash to North Stormont, we now are at the mercy of private corporations to take our garbage for a fee. As there are few companies with industrial-sized landfills to take our garbage, the fee to residents will only go up. Add in the transportation costs, and South Dundas residents now, and in the future, will be forced to pay whatever they are told to for dealing with their garbage.

This new direction was said on January 24 to be “miles ahead” of where council was last year. When it comes to waste management in South Dundas, we are many miles behind.

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