Irondale landfill next Minden Hills headache
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | July 6, 2018
Minden Hills Coun. Pam Sayne played peacemaker last week after Mayor Brent Devolin and Ivan Ingram, environmental and property operations manager, had an exchange of words over the state of the Irondale landfill.
It came after an Ingram report addressing concerns from Millburn Road residents during a May 31 meeting. Led by Ivor Thompson, a group that lives near the landfill complained about its operation and management. Initially, they were going to ask that it be made into a transfer station, but after “learning about the numerous infractions and the environmental impact the dump has on the provincially significant Milburn Wetland Complex,” they want it closed. They made 10 complaints and Ingram conceded to some of them at the June 28 meeting.
Thompson said they found “a mini dump” of tires, plastic waste and other garbage in and around a creek, despite the landfill having to be 100 feet from any watercourse. Ingram said staff had investigated and would have the offending material removed before the end of June. The residents said Highlands Environmental, which is contracted by the township, cut down buffer trees between the dump and nearby property. Ingram said township staff did the cutting in 2016, in order to get the required slope of the bank and it was in that year’s budget. He said staff believes there’s still an adequate buffer. But Coun. Jean Neville disagreed during the meeting, saying the whole landfill is visible from the Millburn Road.
It may meet standards, she said, but staff should be proactive and do some planting. Another complaint was that under the certificate of approval, the landfill has to be covered and compacted every two weeks between April 1 and November 1 and once a month the rest of the year. Thompson claimed it’s only being done about three times a year. “And in some cases … only after complaining to the township about the smell and the garbage that blows onto the road and people’s property because it hasn’t been covered and compacted.”
Ingram agreed cover is sometimes late but said they’re trying. He said staff sometimes has to rely on snow cover and difficulty getting contractors, trucks and materials sometimes cause delays.
“Our road is a constant mess and the Millburn Road community is constantly picking up garbage that has either been blown from the dump or dumped by people and animals,” Thompson added.
Ingram replied staff agrees there’s garbage around the road and front gate but the attendant does gather it up. Ingram dismissed the other complaints as unfounded. They included: not meeting approved setbacks; accepting types of waste not in the C of A, including contaminated material; inadequate fencing; and impact on wetlands. Ingram said in his opinion, the 68-yearold landfill should be made into a transfer station. Following the report, Devolin said staff may be meeting Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) and Cambium minimum standards, but “it’s not to our standards. It’s not good enough. We may technically comply but it doesn’t pass our test.”
Cambium is the township’s landfill consultant. Devolin added there’s a “public appetite” for better landfill operation and management and he wasn’t happy with public complaints. However, Ingram replied that was it was “pretty hard to meet [council’s] standards” when he hasn’t been given direction, nor the staff.
Later, Sayne said, “We are looking at minimum standards, and it’s biting us in the bum.” She said if the public and council wants standards raised, they have to first go to the MOECC, which would in turn influence Cambium. “I don’t think any of us is immune to responsibility,” she said, including council and people who dump garbage at the gate. “But inward fighting is not getting us fixing the situation together.” She said council had to also give staff clear direction. And, Coun. Lisa Schell said the environmental task force has ideas about improvements at the site. She added if council feels its standards should be above the MOECC and Cambium, it needs to budget extra money. For future councils, she adviseed, “This stuff just doesn’t happen out of thin air. It requires dollars.”
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.