Closing landfill the right decision

Since I was writing about it in today’s Highlander, I took a trip to the Hawk Lake waste disposal site this week.

It’s on Hawk Lake Road in Algonquin Highlands.

Council voted last Thursday to close the landfill at its end of life in 2021.

The four councillors in attendance had a robust debate and in the end made the right decision.

Coun. Jennifer Dailloux was initially worried about cutting any services to taxpayers when the tax levy increases annually in the township, albeit slightly.

Coun. Lisa Barry was also concerned about cuts but also wondered about the impact on good recycling in the township.

Coun. Julia Shortreed listened intently as Mayor Carol Moffatt basically facilitated the conversation. She then recommended the closure with the move from Hawk Lake to Maple Lake landfill.

Moffatt, quite correctly, asked whether the township was going to make a decision based on convenience to its taxpayers or one in the best interests of the entire municipality.

The ultimate decision was to close the landfill or open a seasonal or year-round transfer station.

Convenience-wise, the larger Maple Lake WDS is only about 10 minutes from Hawk Lake. Pine Springs landfill is also not far away.

Further, since Hawk Lake is a small operation, it only takes household waste and recyclables, not all of the other items that people have been taking to Maple Lake anyway.

While I was at the dump, a woman drove in who wasn’t overly phased by the decision. She said her biggest complaint was the illegal dumping of things at Hawk Lake, such as chairs. She commented that if there were more eyes on the dumpers, there would be better recycling practices.

We’re not entirely sure how the Halls and Hawk Lakes Property Owners Association feels about the decision since they declined comment in today’s paper.

The township has five landfills, so will still be well served by four: at Maple Lake, Pine Springs, Dorset and Oxtongue. There won’t be job losses since the minimal staff at Hawk Lake will be needed at Maple Lake. The decision was also the most costeffective for ratepayers.

While no one said it at the meeting, we also see the closure as a message that we need less household waste dumped in our county. We need people to become better recyclers and hope the already strong diversion rate in AH continues.

I came across an article on line this week, entitled ‘China puts small-town recycling in dumps.’

It makes it clear that our goal should be zero waste since there isn’t much of a worldwide market for our recyclables anymore. We should stop with single use plastics, plastic produce bags, and consider bulk buying to cut down on packaging. We are seeing more materials, such as soap bars that can be used to shampoo and condition one’s hair, to cut out plastic.

While that may not have been the intent of the AH decision last week, closing one of five landfills in a small township, necessitating the public to drive an additional 10 minutes, is the right decision. It was democratically made in the way government is supposed to work.

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