Province Sends Message to Sault North: “Take Your Plastic Bottles and Shove ‘Em!”

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Press Release issued by Sault North Waste Management Council, July 7th, 2015.

The majority of the taxpayers in Sault North have voted for recycling, yet it does not look like it will happen. Not because they have done anything wrong. It is more about having the Province step in to support it for a short term until the money is collected from the taxes to pay for it. Volunteers who have obtained funding have paid for it for eight years, until the funding ran out. We have heard that “they” don’t want to set a precedent. Really? Set a precedent by supporting recycling? Set a precedent by supporting an essential service to extend the life span of the local waste disposal site. Set a precedent by supporting the ONLY existing curbside recycling in unincoporated townships in Ontario? Perhaps they should be looking at HOW TO set a precedent and encourage exactly this kind of initiative.

recycling bales 2

Plastics diverted from the landfill. This represents about 3 months worth of pick up.

Not only has weekly curbside collection of recyclables stopped, the Havilland Waste Disposal Site (WDS) will no longer accept recyclables from residents who deliver them, as the onsite recycling plant is no longer being staffed. Funding for the recycling program has dried up.

In existence since 2007 and funded through the Sault North Waste Management Council, the curbside collection of 1 and 2 plastics, aluminum, tin cans and cardboard ended June 1. Sault North Waste Management Council (SNWMC) has helped Sault North residents manage their waste through Ontario’s only volunteer run, completely rural (500 km/week) curbside recycling program. It was realized that the long term viability of the program could only be sustained through the tax base, so the SNWMC recommended that the Local Services Boards (LSBs) ask their residents, both permanent and seasonal to vote on the matter.

The two largest Local Services Boards (LSB) in the area did just that and residents voted in favour of a $36 /developed property as an annual levy for the power of garbage collection, which allows the LSB to contract for the collection of recyclables. The results of the votes from residents were sufficient to carry the recommendation that this avenue be pursued, thus sealing the long term sustainability of recycling in the area.

Unfortunately these changes take time and the $36 a year levy that was agreed upon cannot take effect until March/April 2016. Bridge funding for this one year period is not available.

recylcing bales

About 3 months worth of recyclable metal- heading back to the landfill.

Recyclables will once again go into the household garbage and into the Havilland WDS. This will in turn significantly impact the lifespan of this landfill. Should the landfill fail, leaving Sault North without waste management facilities, the area would no longer be viable as a community, businesses will be forced to close (Algoma Public Health) and no further land development will be allowed (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing).

So far 6200 cubic yards (350 tonnes) of recyclable waste has been diverted and the SNWMC with support of provincial government agencies has helped to keep the Havilland Waste Disposal Site open and extended the lifespan of the WDS by recycling and reducing the amount of garbage intake.

A flyer was left in resident’s recycling boxes on the last day of the service. It encouraged residents to contact their member of provincial parliament Michael Mantha. They did not disappoint, as folks are very upset about losing this service that they have become accustomed to using.

Mike Mantha

Mike Mantha -MPP Algoma/Manitoulin

Mike Mantha MPP for Algoma/Manitoulin, visited the Havilland WDS on Wednesday June 10 and it was anticipated he would bring some good news and a cheque for bridge financing for recycling. He was able to provide neither, but did assure those present that the issue was still on the table. Mr Mantha stated “we need to ensure the least interruption in service, it may be creative, no interruption of service, that is my goal, no interruption of service.”

Greg Long isn’t just looking from the outside in regarding this serious issue facing the townships. He has the equipment to gather and process the recyclables, the driver is ready with a truck going by each house to collect garbage. But that is where the buck stops.

Continuing to pick up the recyclables increases his expenses for fuel with more time on the road, paying additional wages to the driver and having an employee on the payroll at the land fill to process them. He’s not in business to bleed money. There is a small window of opportunity to get it onboard and if that does not happen, the equipment will be sold off.

Mr Mantha returned to meet with the Goulais LSB, Sault North Waste Management Council, Greg Long from GT Waste, and Jim Lipsit from Havilland Waste Disposal on June 23rd to discuss a combination of options that could be considered and taken back to MNRF, MNDM and MMAH. Time is running out for resumption of service. All were told that the Ministries involved were reluctant to “set a precedent”. It was difficult for those present to understand what precedent might be set considering that this is the only area where Local Service Boards are facing this dilemma, and the long term plan is already in place. It was also difficult to understand that the possbility of setting a precedent for recycling could be considered a negative.

It is time for the Province to recognize that this is a simple fix, and that failure is both  unnessecary and harmful. Their support would help provide long term sustainability for for the residents, the businesses, and help set the right example. The Ontario government has recently demonstrated a renewed commitment http://www.eco.on.ca/blog/ to meet its environmental targets (greenhouse gasses) perhaps it would be entirely the right time to demonstrate that commitment in a very small way.

(feature image, left to right: Mike Mantha -MPP Algoma/Manitoulin, Jim Lipsit- Manager Haviland Waste Disposal, Holly Hughes- Chair, SNWMC, Greg Long- GT Waste)

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