Central requests Ontario to grant five years to life of landfill site

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To give council and staff time to develop alternatives

CENTRAL MANITOULIN – It appears the municipality of Central Manitoulin will be requesting an extension be granted by the province for the closure of its Providence Bay landfill while the municipality puts together a committee to look at options to manage its waste. 

“I think staff is looking for a policy on how we are going to proceed,” said Denise Deforge, Central Manitoulin treasurer, at a municipal water, waste and education (WWE) committee meeting made up of council members last week. “One big decision that has to be made is whether the municipality is going to fight to keep the landfill open or accept it’s going to be closed. And if the committee feels the closure is inevitable then we will have to look in house at options for waste disposal and look at requesting an extension for closure of the landfill. 

“Inevitably the dump is going to be closed,” said Mayor Richard Stephens. “I think the writing is on the wall. I still think we can work with the government to find a closure deadline that is reasonable. And the idea of setting up a sub-committee that deals with out waste in total and look at cost effective measures would help everyone’s problems.”

“I would say if there was any light, even a glimmer, that we could keep the (Providence Bay) landfill open, I would say let’s fight this,” said Councillor Dale Scott. However, he agreed it is inevitable the landfill is going to be closed.

Ms. Deforge told the committee that the deadline has already passed for the municipality to make a formal appeal on the pending closure of the landfill to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOECP).

“The writing is on the wall,” said Councillor Scott.

Councillor Steve Shaffer stated, “What riles me up is the timeline on it. They (MOECP) come in and tell us that we have 8-10 months to close the landfill after they had told us the landfill lifespan could be 20 years. This was certainly out of the blue.” 

Earlier in the meeting the committee was informed that the municipality had received a letter from MOECP Sudbury district office on its consideration to extend the closing of the Providence Bay landfill for five years.

“We had a meeting with a representative of the MOEPC and they seemed amenable to give us more time for closure of the landfill, but we have to have a management plan in place to take care of our waste,” Ms. Deforge told the committee.

Committee chair and Councillor Al Tribinevicius said, “approval of the extension would be for roughly five years.”

Councillor Diebolt said, “tonight I would like to see this committee pass a motion on the direction we are going with this.” She said one option is to have the transfer station with all the municipality’s garbage taken to Espanola which would double the present cost to approximately $300,000-$600,000 (per year); find property it could purchase and have a new engineered landfill designed. The third option is for the municipality to develop a management plant to take care of all its waste in house, buy a truck to pick up garbage in the municipality and develop the rules for garbage pickup and forward this to the climate action committee to put the plan together for council’s consideration. “To me the third option to do this on our own would be the best option and include could compacting and glass pulverizing.” 

Mayor Stephens said that he liked the ideas proposed by Councillor Diebolt but said he would like to include municipal staff on the committee to do the legwork for the plans and make recommendations to council. 

Councillor Diebolt said the only disagreement she had with Mayor Stephens on his idea is that staff is already overworked with other projects it must carry out. “I was hoping the climate action committee could do the legwork.”

“The idea of finding a new location was a great idea that we should have looked at years ago,” said Councillor Derek Stephens. “Little Current took over looking after their own waste. If we had looked at this 15 years ago we would be almost ready to go now. One question I have is why would the climate action committee be at the table on this. They would not be buying trucks, or hiring someone to pick up garbage, the municipality would.”

“Derek is right,” said Councillor Scott. “The climate action committee would not be looking at engineering a site and plans.” He asked what exactly the MOECP’s position is on the request for a five-year extension to the closure of the Providence Bay landfill. 

The meeting was told the MOECP is amenable to extending the closure date for the Providence Bay landfill, but not without a formal written plan in place.

“We would definitely need a four-or five-year extension if we are talking about putting in place Rose’s (Diebolt) third option of taking care of waste in house,” stated Councillor Scott. “I’m very passionate that compost needs to be dealt with, as well as pulverizing of glass. And by 2025 the province has said that with the blue box system film plastic and Styrofoam will be taken. I agree we need to have a plan in place, and I would be disappointed if the ministry doesn’t allow us five years to put this together especially when they had originally told us there was a 20-year life expectancy for the Providence Bay landfill site, then we are told we have to close in June (2022).”

“I agree with Derek, we do need public input and advice,” said Councillor Tribinevicius. “And we don’t need this plan to come through the climate action committee. We can do this with a committee of the people here.” 

However, the climate change action committee can have a role in the committee in terms of doing research for instance, said Councillor Scott.

“Denise, what does staff need from us in terms of ideas or a motion to go forward?” asked Councillor Diebolt. 

Ms. Deforge said that municipal staff needs direction from the committee on how to proceed on this issue. The municipality is asking for an extension on the closure of the Providence Bay landfill for five years and may or may not be granted this. A subcommittee would be helpful in putting together a waste management plan.

“I see this being a three-step process,” said Councillor Shaffer. “One is to ask for the extension and secondly, forming a subcommittee to look at all alternatives and put a waste management plan in place with two or three options to be presented including a cost analysis for each.”

“But the first step is to formally request an extension on the closure deadline for the Providence Bay site, and for a subcommittee to provide four or five recommendations to staff and on to council,” said Councillor Shaffer. 

A motion was passed by the committee (to go to council) to make a formal request to the MOECP for an extension of the closure of the Providence Bay site for five years and that a committee be formed to develop a formal waste management plan.

Ms. Deforge told The Expositor after the meeting that the five-year request to MOECP has been raised because if the municipality had to go to full transportation of all its waste to another site it would double the current costs and require a seven percent increase in the mill rate for taxpayers, just for management of waste every year. If the extension is granted this would lessen the increase to about 1.5 percent per year for the municipality to deal specifically with landfill issues.