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Feature Article - September 22, 2005

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Feature Article

September 22, 2005

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ArchiveImage GalleryAlgonquin Land Claims

Gray MerriamLegaleseGeneral information and opinion on legal topics by Rural Legal ServicesNature Reflectionsby Jean GriffinNight Skiesby Leo Enright

Prospect of dump fees fills Hall

by Wilma Kenny

Proposed changes in waste disposal policies and procedures brought a lively crowd of Portland residents to Tuesday night’s South Frontenac Council meeting. Councillor Roos, chair of the Sustainability Committee, said the changes (which include bag tags, uniform fees for large items brought to the landfills in Bedford, Portland and Loughborough, and curbside recycling in the latter two districts,) are an attempt to establish uniformity across the Township, and to make landfills last as long as possible.

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Portland’s residents may have the least motivation for change; their landfill site is estimated to be good for more than a quarter-century, and to date they have had minimal, if any disposal fees. Storrington, with no landfill site, pays to have its waste trucked away, and between them, Bedford and Loughborough agreed later in the evening to pay over $200,000 for rehabilitation work on their landfills.

Will Illegal Dumping Increase?Several speakers feared increased roadside dumping, if fees were charged for appliances, furniture, electronics and plumbing fixtures. Councillor Robinson pointed out that even without fees, Portland has roadside dumpers: "It will always be a problem, but 97% of the people, even if they complain about the cost, are too decent to start dumping on the side of the road." Hahn pointed out that although Bedford and Loughborough already have had disposal fees, they have not experienced huge garbage problems. CAO Burns said that if anyone had garbage dumped on their property, they should notify the by-law officer, who would try to determine who the culprit was, and fine them. If this was not possible, the township would remove the garbage. Councillor Hahn said that after several $350. illegal dumping fines were recently levied in Bedford, the problem is much less.

Why Not Burn?Yard waste such as leaves and branches will no longer be accepted at the landfills. In the past, this material has been burned, but this can’t be done on a dry summer, which means the branches further clog the landfill or have to be chipped, a costly job. Vandewal said Loughborough is facing a $9,000 bill for chipping the brush they haven’t been able to burn this summer. Councillor Hahn said that burning’s risky, for if the fire gets into the main dump, the smoke is toxic, and the fire very difficult to extinguish.

What About Batteries, Paints and Poisons?Janice Aarsen-Bruyns held up a bag of small batteries: "These contain cadmium and lithium, and are too dangerously toxic to go into a landfill site: why can’t we recycle them in our blue boxes?" Councillor Roos replied that the ministry has very specific regulations around the disposal of all hazardous waste: at present, residents’ only means of disposal is to purchase a $30. permit from the Township office, which allows them to take a specified amount of hazardous waste to the disposal site in Kingston. Although it has not been ruled out, a yearly or biannual hazardous waste depot in the township would be very costly to set up and operate. (In the past, Portland held a Hazardous Waste day, which cost over $8,000 and was poorly attended.) The Sustainability Committee will be bringing a consultant to council this fall to outline in detail how a local depot could be established, if there is sufficient interest. Several residents spoke of the need to have some better means of disposing of hazardous waste from the township.

"Shoot Your Fridge"Mayor Lake found this suggestion too serious to be funny: he reminded the speaker that freon damages the environment, and must be properly disposed of. He said that Knapp Appliances on Sydenham Road was the closest licensed dealer who could remove freon and dispose of refrigerators for a reasonable fee.

And Other SuggestionsSharbot Lake now has an electronic re-use depot, which accepts computers and televisions. One speaker asked whether Council might consider requests for exceptions to the two-bag limit imposed by the bag-tags, in unusual situations, and another wondered about a once-or-twice-a-year amnesty on fees for appliances and furniture. Portland small businesses may be paying extra garbage fees without receiving service: if so, should the fees be removed, or bag tags issued?.

Gunsmoke, Bill??Councillor Robinson summed up the discussion by saying "Recycling’s already making a difference. There will be problems - we’re trying to deal with new provincial rules. Bear with us. We’re here working trying to sort things out, while you’re home watching Gunsmoke." Councillor R. obviously hasn’t been wasting a lot of time in front of the tv recently...

Action TakenCouncil agreed to postpone any decision about disposal fees until they have had time to discuss, and perhaps incorporate, some of the concerns and suggestions from this public meeting.

Waste Management Open HouseThere will be an Open House for further discussion and information-sharing about waste disposal issues, including recycling and composting, on Wednesday, October 5, in the Township Hall, Sydenham, from 4-7pm.

Mitchell Creek BridgeCouncil passed a resolution to do $7,500 in temporary repairs, which will allow the Mitchell Creek Bridge to stay open through the winter, with a reduced speed limit of 10kph. Councillor Davison reported that on Monday, he and Councillor Vandewal met with several government officials, including an environmental representative, who said that after reviewing all aspects, they saw no reason why rebuilding of the bridge should not go forward as planned, in the spring. The original legality of the bridge and watercourse are not relevant to the present day. The proposed new bridge has been narrowed from six metres to two, and the overhead clearance has been lowered a metre from the original recommendation. "That’s another $7,500 pissed into that creek," summarized Vandewal.

Another Little Orange TruckCouncil supported Alan Revell’s recommendation that the Building Department proceed with vehicle tenders for the smallest truck that is practical, to help reduce capital and operating costs.

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