Gordon/Barrie Island and Gore Bay rethink transfer station agreements

GORDON – Gordon/Barrie Island is in favour of increasing its current share of operating costs of the transfer station with the town of Gore Bay, paying a share of the costs in hiring an additional employee at the transfer station and reviewing the current agreement in place with Gore Bay for the transfer station.

“At the end of the day, we want to pay our share of the costs for operating the transfer station,” stated Lee Hayden, reeve of the municipality of Gordon/Barrie Island, at a council meeting last week. “We are not shying away from that and based on the statistics, we could increase our share to 41 percent of the costs and accept some of the extra costs for proper staffing at the transfer station.”

Council for Gordon/Barrie Island and the Town of Gore Bay both agree that the long-standing transfer station agreement between the two municipalities needs to be updated.

At a Gore Bay council meeting November 8, council reviewed the minutes of a transfer committee meeting November 1. Mayor Dan Osborne pointed out, “no recommendation has been made to council but we are looking at reviewing the current transfer station agreement.” 

Mayor Osborne explained the transfer station committee met November 1 and all the user data for the transfer station, including bag (garbage) count and attendance from counting identification from tags (from May 1-October 30) had been presented and there was some discussion among the municipalities. It was agreed that committee members would go back to their respective councils and then come back with a proposal.

As had been reported in the minutes of the November 1 transfer station committee meeting, “a comparison of data collected at the transfer station including bag count and attendance from counting identification from tags was reviewed by the committee. The statistics show that when reviewing the tag counts (residents vehicle traffic visits) Gore Bay is sitting at 47.23 percent and Gordon/Barrie Island at 52.77 percent. The bag count collected (including residents, private collection and collection from the Manitoulin Lodge Nursing Home (Gore Bay) resulted in 59.27 percent for Gore Bay and 40.73 percent for Gordon/Barrie Island. Roger Chenard (of Gore Bay public works) also stated that the administration of the site needs to be considered as public works has had to fill in when the transfer station staff was short this season, which increases costs to Gore Bay and creates shortfalls public works staff for their regular duties. Mr. Chenard has asked for Gordon public works department to be available to help out with onsite administration as it is a burden to Gore Bay resources.

The transfer station agreement was also discussed by the transfer station committee. The agreement of the operation of the joint transfer station was reviewed. The committee commented that the agreement was created when the terms were suitable and it worked for each partner but now needs to be reevaluated. 

“Currently, we pay 60 percent of the costs of operating the landfill and Gordon/Barrie Island pays 40 percent,” said Mayor Osborne. “And the data numbers show Gordon/Barrie Island higher in some areas and we are higher in some. It isn’t the best situation. The transfer station will be open whether we participate or not. And Roger gave information on how much time our public works crew spends there.” He said the town’s general government committee is going to put together a proposal for the transfer station committee. 

At the Gordon/Barrie Island council meeting, Councillor Jack Bould said, “the town would like a 50/50 split of the (operating costs of the transfer station) and say that, with seasonal traffic, that we have 60 percent of the traffic, but we only have 40 percent of the volume of garbage being dropped off. Their garbage volume is much higher, even during the peak season. This feeling is never going to go away as  some committee members think the town is always going to get screwed over. But the bag count numbers are a 60-40 percent split (in terms of volume).”

Council was told the current percentage of the operating costs the township is paying is 37.9 percent.

Councillor John Turner said, “the initial intent of the tag bag system count was just to get statistics for Gordon/Barrie Island and Gore Bay, to look at finding a remedy for the cost sharing. This was supposed to take in a year’s worth of data. We are aware our municipality has a high influx of traffic from May to September. But the data collection to take place for a year didn’t continue.” 

“In terms of vehicle traffic, we are higher but we have very few private garbage collections being done and Gore Bay has a very high amount,” added Councillor Bould. 

Councillor Turner said the transfer station committee decided to bring this back to their councils and then bring a new proposal back to the committee. “Roger (Chenard) said a big concern is when public works staff is brought in to help with administration of the transfer station Gore Bay. If an employee is taken away from the job they had been doing to help out at the transfer station, this is a job that doesn’t get done. It was mentioned the town has received calls from local residents with complaints that other areas are suffering because the town has had to take public works staff off their jobs to help at the transfer station.” 

The current transfer station operations agreement was established years ago, in 2009, said Councillor Turner. “It was supposed to be revisited every year for discussion. These issues being raised are all things that should have been looked at.” 

Councillor Cameron Runnalls suggested council could look at providing a larger share of split in the operating costs with Gore Bay. 

It was pointed out by Councillor Bould that Gordon/Barrie Island is not in the position that it can take public works staff and have them provide support at the transfer station.

“But I can sympathize with the town on this issue and having to take staff away from one job to help out at the transfer station,” said Reeve Hayden. 

Councillor Turner explained that when the original agreement was drafted, it was based on population. In the 2016 census, Gore Bay had 867 residents and Gordon/Barrie Island had 490, which works out to a 64-36 percentage split.

However, this doesn’t take in summer resident population, said Reeve Hayden. 

“If we come up with an accurate population figure for 2021, if Gore Bay, for example, has a population of 900 and we have 600 that would be a 60-40 percent split,” said Councillor Turner.  

“I think the bottom line is that we have to revisit the current transfer station agreement,” stated Councillor Turner.

“It sounds like we would be in favour of moving to have more staff dedicated to working at the transfer station and help in sharing in the costs,” 

“One proposal that came out previously was to have an onsite manager,” said Councillor Turner. However, this never materialized because of the costs involved, he said. “If we want the transfer station to run smoothly, there has to be enough people there.”

Based on the data summary that had come from the study, “if we decided to pay a 41 percent share of the cost of operating the transfer station and would be willing to share in the costs of having an additional person (dedicated to only working at the transfer station) this might be possible,” said Reeve Hayden.

“The town is going to want us to provide additional money for more staff,” said Councillor Turner. 

“Should we also be addressing the current agreement?” asked Councillor Turner.

“Yes, this should be updated,” stated Reeve Hayden.  

Council passed a motion that proposes that Gordon/Barrie Island increase its current share of operating costs of the transfer station to 41 percent, and would be in favour of sharing in costs of having an additional person hired that solely would be dedicated to working at the transfer station. As well, council feels the current transfer station agreement needs to be reviewed.