Dumping grounds prove a countywide challenge
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | June 25, 2017|
As Haliburton County prepares to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, disposing of sewage and garbage may be its two biggest challenges.
Lake associations are telling Dysart et al, Minden Hills, Algonquin Highlands and Highlands East that they expect a mandatory septic system inspection program as soon as possible. Further, they want a countywide solution to a lack of proper sewage treatment facilities.
“This is a concern to us. We want you to know that this is a concern to us. We will be monitoring what’s going on,” said Lake Kashagawigamog Organization president Gary Wiles at their annual general meeting (AGM) June 24.
Wiles said a motion, prepared in consultation with the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Association (CHA), will be made at all lake association AGMs across the county this summer.
Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey and Minden Hills Reeve and County Warden Brent Devolin both spoke at the meeting.
Fearrey conceded that landfills and disposing of pumped sewage are two major issues facing all county municipalities in the next few years.
The CHA has beaten this drum for some time now, educating people that septic systems are the single largest polluter of our lakes.
Fearrey said Dysart has yet to pass a septic inspection program at council but is committed to one. He said they would be inspecting tanks but not tile beds. Holding tanks would be included. Fearrey said it would be a user pay program, estimated to cost about $450 for inspection and pump-out. He said home and cottager owners would likely see an inspection every five years once the program is implemented.
But while Dysart and other municipalities are ready to go, according to Fearrey, they are awaiting ministry approval and that is being held up by a lack of disposal sites across the county.
“I hope by this time next year a program will be started,” Fearrey said.
Fearrey said the same crunch applies to future landfill space. He said as existing landfills reach end of life it is becoming increasingly difficult to find new areas. Dysart Coun. Dennis Casey said it’s because of our proximity to water bodies. Fearrey suggested that in future the county will have to ship its landfill waste out.
A member of the audience asked about land Dysart acquired years ago for a future landfill. “The land is still there. So is the MOECC (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change),” Fearrey responded.
Devolin said that for about five years, they expected the province to implement an inspection program under the Ontario Building Code but Municipal Affairs Minister Bill Mauro has done “a 180. He said he thinks the province realized the cost would be exorbitant in rural and regional Ontario. Devolin said Mauro’s point that people pump out at one-third full anyway shows “a misunderstanding” at Queen’s Park about what happens here.
“We all have a stake, with the CHA,” Devolin said. “We need to do a better job.” He said that meant municipalities hiring people but also the public spending money. He added, that with the MOECC, “we’re going to have to figure out where it’s all going to go.”
“Water quality and tourism are the principle assets of Haliburton County. Hopefully by the end of 2017, the path forward will become clearer.”
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.