The perfect storm of garbage woes in Simcoe County

·2 min read

Delays to the construction of one waste site have hastened the need for another.

Due to a fourth appeal against the proposed Environmental Resource Recovery Centre (ERRC) in Springwater Township — that could take two-to-four years to settle — in addition to the contract ending for the current Waste Connections contractor at the end of October, a perfect storm of garbage placement has broadsided Simcoe County Council.

“This is all so last-minute. Why didn’t we do something before?” asked Bradford-West-Gwillimbury Deputy Mayor James Leduc.

Leduc said a Request for Proposal (RFP) was extended in Jan. 2020 but came in at performing only 50 per cent of the proposed work, so it was cancelled.

But he points out it wasn’t until last December that another RFP was requested for a new facility in Oro-Medonte.

“Now we have nine months to build a new temporary transfer station. I don’t know why it took this long,” he said.

While some of the delay could lay at the feet of shutdowns due to COVID-19, a more pressing issue is that of the three Local Planning Appeal Tribunals (LPATs) questioning the county’s choice of site, natural heritage/environment issues and concerns about noise and odour from the proposed Horseshoe Valley Road waste management facility have to be addressed.

With delays costing taxpayers an estimated $1.5 million, county council asked for a Minister’s Zoning Order last April to override the appeals but was denied in August. A fourth appeal tribunal date has not been set.

The county considers the ERRC an important project that would see both an organics processing centre for the next 30 years, and would save the transport of inorganic material to the current facility in Elmira. It’s estimated that it would save taxpayers $1.6 million in waste transfer and hauling costs, as well as employ directly, and indirectly (through contractors) 100 jobs.

In the interim, County council approved a $5.5-million 21,000-square-foot site to handle the transfer of garbage and organics to other locations around the province.

Although Rob McCullough, Simcoe’s director of solid waste management, says the county’s not at the building stage yet, it will be ready to go when it gets Environmental Compliance Approvals (ECA) from the Ministry of Conservation and Parks.

“That’s perhaps the biggest hurdle because their approval times for anything is quite lengthy, although we’re hopeful we’ll be able to get an emergency ECA for that,” McCullough said after the council meeting Tuesday.

McCullough said the site won’t require further Oro-Medonte Township approvals because the land is already zoned for waste management.

Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance