- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

In 2007, the City of Owen Sound contracted consultants to develop a 25 year Long Term Waste Management Plan.

Almost two-thirds of the way into that “long term” the City contracted Dillon Consulting to develop a Waste Management Strategy, and their report is making its way to council for final approval. A draft of the 135 page report was shared in the Operations Committee meeting.

The Appendix A of the Dillon report is a progress update on the 2007-2031 Plan, which shows that two-thirds of the options were "not implemented".

The focus of attention was on a proposed “green bin” pilot project for collection of source-separated organics, something that has been brought up in plans and certainly election campaigns since at least 2006.

Committee member Meg Robertson asked what would happen if the proposed green bin pilot project did not go well, given that 80 per cent reduction of organics from the municipal waste stream will be legislated by 2025. Director of Engineering Chris Webb said that it might not actually be mandatory after all, but if it is, the City will have to make it happen. Mayor Boddy added that there may be an exception for municipalities under 50,000 population.

Committee member Mike Crone, a former City staffer who most recently was our interim Director of Operations, told the committee that while organics collection is a good thing, it comes at a significant cost to the ratepayer – he estimated from the report $1 to 1.6 million dollars a year, which he figured was a 4 to 6 per cent tax increase.

Lara Widdifield, Director of Operations, reminded the committee members that waste management does not save money.

“It will always cost us money,” she said, but the options in the plan would help staff prioritize their own work, and “even if it doesn't save us a penny, we will be doing our part in responsible waste management.”

The final report from Dillon will be presented to council in May of this year.

Two other reports concerning waste came up during Thursday's meeting.

compostsitemisuseThe City's leaf and yard compost site has been closed for a few months, and is set to re-open Saturday, Apr. 1.

It has been something of a victim of its own popularity and honour system.

Residents dumping household garbage and ashes (causing fires), “neighbours” who don't pay Owen Sound taxes taking advantage of the service and adding to management costs, and commercial businesses leaving dumptrucks full of construction waste and outsized trees at the unattended site, are some of the issues.

A full business plan for the compost site will be presented to council later this year, but in the interim the committee recommended adding the site to Fairmount Security's contract with the City and authorizing Thomas Wheildon, CEO of the firm, to write tickets enforcing the Waste Management by-law at the site.

Although the report says "Public Works staff can work more efficiently, safely, and freely when the site is closed to the public", the committee expressed concern about a suggestion to reduce the weekly operating hours at the site from 84 to 25, eliminating evening and Sunday hours. Committee member Meg Robertson suggested consideration of a key-card gate system, with access only available to Owen Sound ratepayers.

The last waste management issue on the Operations agenda shed little new light on the subject of the transition of Blue Box responsibility from municipalities to the producers of packaging, although Director Webb tried his best. From July 1 this year until December 31, 2025, we will be “in transition”, and most of us as residents will see no big difference as it is likely that our current service provider will be sub-contracted by the producers' contractor to manage our recycling. As City Manager Tim Simmonds pointed out at an earlier council meeting, the challenges will be around the ineligible sources of recycling, including for-profit long-term care residences and municipal buildings.

Councillor Hamley is the Director of Issues Management and Legislative Affairs at the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Ministry responsible for this Blue Box transition. He had left the Operations meeting at this point in the discussion.

You can watch the whole meeting, including the Alpha Street discussion, here. Click on the agenda item that interests you, and the video will start there.





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