County council will establish a staff working group to look into the possibility of incinerating garbage in the Highlands – and report back to council in September.

The move came after County councillors dismissed the idea of one-tier waste management services delivery at its May 22 meeting.

Instead, they opted for the four townships to keep working together.

CAO Gary Dyke pointed out how Coun. Walt McKechnie had asked whether alternative waste management solutions were considered by the consultant. He said it had not been part of their work. However, he said staff could look into it if directed by council.

“I think there’s merit in looking at alternative methodologies,” he said. “Keeping up to date with modern technologies, as opposed to just burying all of our garbage in the ground.” He noted there are incinerators in Ontario as well as European models.

Warden Liz Danielsen said, “I think you’ve heard some encouraging words over the last few meetings urging council to look at incineration. I would welcome staff doing some advance research,”

Coun. Jennifer Dailloux said she’d like staff input from the lower-tier before going to a consultant, as “there is a wealth of information out there and staff have been doing a whole lot of this thinking already.”

Danielsen and Dyke indicated it would be an internal look. Dyke called it a “white paper” with alternatives for Haliburton County.

Coun. Cec Ryall said a council decision to investigate incineration would be “controversial.

“There’s going to be a lot of discussion about it. A fact-finding mission is the right thing to do to get the rules of how it works, the actual challenges and advantages clearly defined before we start getting the emails on the pros and cons of what people think of it.”

McKechnie said he was “passionate about another alternative to our landfill site issue.”

He said he had been working on the incineration file behind the scenes and, “there are definitely some things that have really improved with regard to the product that is out there.”

He added landfill sites are being closed, forcing waste to be trucked on highways to alternate sites. However, he foresees that ending, with high costs of trucking and recipients no longer wanting to accept garbage.

“I think there is going to come a time here really soon where we are going to have to start being responsible for our own garbage. The only way you do that is the model that, especially Sweden and Norway, have been following for the past 50 years.”

He said there is a company in Norway that builds incinerators for Singapore that are capable of getting rid of between 15 tons to two million tons of garbage.

He said the biggest question is environmental pollution “and I am 100 per cent against that.

“I think there is an opportunity here for somebody to be the pioneer in rural Ontario. We need to start thinking about another alternative here really soon.”