New summer hours at AH landfills

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Algonquin Highlands has rubber stamped a new summer schedule for its landfill sites at Oxtongue Lake, Dorset, Maple Lake, and Pine Springs.

Addressing council Jan. 19, environmental manager Melissa Murray said vehicle counts and general usage across the township’s four landfill sites had changed drastically in recent years. She said this was likely due to changing demographics and shifts in property usage, with a large influx of people transitioning from seasonal to permanent residents of the community during the pandemic.

“The traditional weekend cottager arriving Friday evening and departing Sunday evening is becoming less common. Site usage is being spread more evenly throughout the week now,” Murray stated.

Landfill hours have remained steady across the township since 2015, when operating hours in Dorset were adjusted. Murray noted staff had been tracking traffic patterns over the past two years while developing the new schedule.

The most underutilized hours appeared to be early mornings and evenings, Murray said.

She felt there was a benefit to creating a more consistent schedule across all sites.

“The greatest challenge we run into is people having difficulty knowing what the hours are. We’ve received a number of complaints in the past from people that have arrived at one of our dumps and found the gates closed,” Murray said. “We will never have hours that will please everyone, but we have to weigh [what people want] against what we can reasonably offer.”

There was some discussion surrounding the Oxtongue Lake site. Murray had initially proposed the landfill be closed on Mondays, citing poor traffic counts, but deputy mayor Jennifer Dailloux felt this would have a big impact on many residents. A compromise was reached to keep the site open for four hours on Mondays, down from the previous five.

Dailloux wondered if the township should consult with the public before moving ahead with changes, but CAO Angie Bird noted there was a bit of a “time crunch”. She said landfill cards are being renewed this year and will be mailed out with residents’ interim tax bills later this month. The landfill cards usually contain the hours of the township’s dump sites.

“I think we’ve looked at all the possible ways of balancing this… let’s treat this as a one-year trial period, observe over the summer, and then we can revisit next year if we have to,” said mayor Liz Danielsen.