Committee formed to examine garbage options as Providence Bay Landfill ordered closed

CENTRAL MANITOULIN – Following debate on the mandate for a landfill committee and whether the committee would have any role in the closure plan for the Providence Bay landfill, Central Manitoulin council moved to create a committee to plan for the future disposition of the municipality’s waste.

The original recommendation from the Water, Waste and Education committee was moved by Councillor Dale Scott and seconded by Councillor Rose Diebolt and read “That we recommend to Council that a subcommittee of the Water, Waste and Education committee be formed to assist in the preparation of a draft formal plan for the Providence Bay Landfill closure and to steer the municipal direction with future landfill issues.”

Councillor Derek Stephens pointed out that the closure order follows strict ministry guidelines. Staff and the municipality’s consultants have the expertise to do the job, he suggested. “I don’t believe anyone on council could add anything to the process, it’s a staff job,” he said.

Councillor Stephens noted that the municipality once had a committee looking at those issues several years ago. “But then that fell by the wayside,” he said. The issue of the eventual closure of the Providence Bay landfill, far from being a surprise, had been heralded for some time. “But as for closure, we don’t have a say in it.”

Mayor Richard Stephens said he believed the spirit of the motion was to create a group to look at future options. 

Councillor Rose Diebolt agreed, noting that the issue was to decide what to do with the municipality’s garbage, “rather than ship it to Espanola.”

Councillor Dale Scott said that he believed there is value in forming a subcommittee to look at future options, but that committee should have a broader mandate than simply the Providence Bay landfill. “The blue box is winding down,” he said. “It’s all sort of a big picture issue.”

Mayor Stephens noted that the previous committee was sidetracked by a proposed Island-wide committee, but never reinstituted after that concept fell by the wayside.

Mayor Stephens sought CAO Ruth Frawley’s opinion on the motion. She pointed out that Councillor Stephens was correct in the matter of the closure, but added that it was well within council’s purview to look into options for the future-

Councillor Scott asked if council needed to pass a motion on the closure of the Providence Bay landfill. CAO Frawley said “no.”

After some debate, it was agreed the portion of the motion regarding the closure would be removed but a committee would be formed to deal with future landfill issues.

Councillor Diebolt asked if it was necessary to set up a separate committee or if the existing Climate Change committee could undertake the work, seeing as many of the members of that committee have some expertise that could prove useful.

“We are not in a position to poach another committee,” said Mayor Stephens, who went on to point out that the municipality -as sought a five-year extension to the life of the landfill.

Councillor Stephens corrected a suggestion that any committee would “give direction to staff,” adding that was the job of council as a whole.

Some discussion on composting then took place following an interjection from Councillor Scott, with suggestions that could divert 40 percent of the municipality’s waste. Councillor Scott added the need for a glass pulverizer to turn waste glass into usable silica. Mayor Stephens redirected debate to the question at hand.

Councillor Stephens called for a recorded vote on the motion and cast the only dissenting vote on the motion.