Landfill plan dumped

Posted by on December 6, 2011 at 11:40 pm.

When the County was looking to save money during budget time in February, one of the decisions made by council was to close five of the seven landfill and transfer sites; at Ameliasburgh, Hillier, South Marysburgh, Sophiasburgh and Hallowell, from Nov. 1 until April 30.

The two sites that would remain open would be in Wellington and Picton.

Neither the Wellington nor the Picton site can accept brush. That means that if all other sites are closed for the winter, broken branches and Christmas trees would have to stay on a resident’s property until spring.

Last week councillors Kevin Gale of Sophiasburgh and Barry Turpin of Bloomfield led an effort to revisit the budget decision (Turpin also sits on the Quinte Waste Solutions Board). They argued that the winter closure of these dumps will lead some to discard their waste on County roadsides.

Gale suggested that folks on the far side of Big Island won’t travel to Picton or Wellington to discard their old couches.

“That’s going to end up in the ditch, is where it’s going to be,” predicted Gale.

The Sophiasburgh councillor further predicted the County would chew up any projected savings by picking up garbage left by the roadside.

Gale and Turpin suggested that if saving money was necessary, the operating costs could be cut in half by opening the dumps only on Saturdays, instead of the usual Wednesdays and Saturdays. According to Robert McAuley, commissioner of the public works department, that would save the County $15,000 instead of the originally proposed $30,000.

The issue was hotly debated. Opinion was split about whether the change was a good idea. There was disagreement too about the wisdom of revisiting in September decisions made in March.

Hillier Councillor Alec Lunn argued that it was necessary to close some of the landfill sites to prolong their limited lifespan.

“People get over it,” said Lunn. “They get used to it. They have roadside pickup, we don’t have as much money to spend, it is a service cut, yes. But this is something we discussed, decided on, and decided to live with. We’re cutting services in order to save the tax roll.”

Despite Lunn’s objections the committee approved the proposal to open the targeted dumps one day per week. The final decision will be made at a council meeting, likely on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. at Shire Hall in Picton.

Council has been here before. Last year it approved a plan to suspend operation at the Hillier landfill site, only to overturn its own decision a few weeks later during a raucous meeting in Hillier.

Advertisements notifying the public of the now-reversed winter closure decision have already been published. There was no word on the cost of revised advertisements and signage, or where the extra $15,000 would come from, although Quaiff suggested McAuley might find the money by reducing equipment and vehicle purchases.

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