The potential future of landfilling in the Highlands came before County council April 10 with a presentation on single-tier waste management.

Dysart’s John Watson, Algonquin Highlands’ Melissa Murray, Highlands East’s Perry Kelly and Minden Hills’ Chelsea Cosh delivered a staff report emanating from the 2020 service delivery review – accompanying a final report by Dillon Consulting Ltd.

The staff landfill leads said waste management is “an increasingly complex, and expensive, component of municipal services.” They added each township collects, processes and disposes [material]… with large geographic boundaries and small populations.”

They spoke of duplication, noting contracts are issued individually by each township, for waste hauling and processing, site attendants, environmental monitoring and reporting, extended producer responsibility agreements, and administrative reporting. “Often the same for each municipality, and each municipality completes the same report.

“Waste management services vary throughout the four municipalities. These variations include disposal fees, garbage bag limits, policies, and procedures. Residents and businesses can be confused by these variations. Promotion and education efforts are challenged by conflicting practices,” they added.

Watson, Murray, Kelly and Cosh said they do not totally operate in silos, having recently collaborated on the Haliburton County Waste Wizard app and household hazardous waste days, which allow the public to go to any landfill.

However, they added, “a single-tier waste management system has the potential to streamline policies, administrative functions, contracting, and customer service.”

In the service delivery review, waste management services were one of six key customer areas identified for improvement. Key recommendations included: establishing a waste inter-municipal committee; standardization of waste policies across Haliburton County; and a County-wide review of waste facilities.

Referencing the Dillon Consulting Ltd. report, staff said the consultants visited all landfills and transfer stations, interviewed staff, and researched and analyzed data. The final report includes a detailed review of the current state of waste management amongst the four lower-tier municipalities, a jurisdictional review, and proposed service delivery model for the future.

“The final report analyzes the concept of providing waste management services under a single administration at the County level. A coordinated service delivery model would provide dedicated staffing and expertise to plan and operate waste management services,” the staff report says.

It goes on to say, “in a coordinated approach, all waste management functions currently managed individually by each lower-tier municipality would be centralized. Common services would be recovered through user fees and the County rate tax levy.” Scotiabank Lighthouse, 100 Yonge St., 5th Floor, Toronto ON, M5C 2W1 File: 3266608 SWM Ads – Le Roy Financial Group, print ready ads R4 Workfront#: 3266608 Trim: 10.375 in” x 3” Colours: CMYK

Dillon has suggested three options for transitioning. Option one would see the County administering. Option two is administration by a non-profit municipallyowned corporation. And, option three is administration by a co-ordinating committee. Dillon Consulting’s report recommends Insertion: -Bleed: .125” Safety: n/a Deadline: Nov 2023 Designer: JK the preferred service delivery model begin with a coordinating committee and transition into County administration. It’s suggested the change could happen in one to two years “with the harmonization of service levels occurring over a longer time.”

As for next steps, staff said if councillors agreed with the recommendation, they should designate and fund a County staff resource to work on a transition plan, and seek approval from each of the four lower-tier municipal councils.

Conversely, the staff report said if the County disagrees, it could choose to establish a waste management collaborating committee… “to govern its operations and scope of work, for example, with focus on streamlining service and reducing duplicate efforts.”

Dillon Consulting said there are 18 sites in the County, 10 landfills and eight transfer stations, with environmental monitoring of 20 closed sites. The net operating cost is $4.37 million annually.

Dillon referenced “rationalizing the number of locations based on travel distances.”

Report off to townships

Commenting on Wednesday’s report, coun. Walt McKechnie said, “I cannot believe we’re not talking about incinerating garbage.” However, the consultant said that was not in the scope of their current project.

Coun. Murray Fearrey indicated there was nothing in the report on cost savings, with the consultant saying it was difficult to quantify without going to procurement. The Dysart mayor commented that sometimes there were advantages in “going together, and sometimes not.” He recalled three reports in his time on council, including recommending a centralized landfill, that would cost substantially more, not less.

Coun. Jennifer Dailloux said they would have to see the “trifecta” in recommending the service go to the County: cost savings, improved user experience, and efficiencies to operate.

Coun. Bob Carter added, “I’m not seeing a compelling argument,” since the townships are collaborating.

Council received the report for information only, deferred it to the lower-tier governments, and the discussion will come back to the County at the end of May.