Original Several changes coming to CKs Waste Management

By Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

During a recent council meeting, the topic of waste management caused many councillors to be split on decision-making.

Currently, Chatham-Kent’s waste collection contract covers both garbage and recycling collection and the disposal and processing of materials collected from 17 curbside areas, eight non-curbside transfer stations, and two leaf and yard depots.

“It is recommended to keep the frequency and the limit of garbage collected at the curb status quo unless a curbside Green Bin Program is implemented. In that case, it is recommended to reduce the frequency of garbage collection to bi-weekly to discourage waste generation and incentivize waste diversion. This will be included as a provision of contingency in the next waste collection RFP,” read the report that went before council.

Staff said a Green Bin Program would be an effective method of diverting waste from Ontario landfills. But after lengthy discussions, council opted to split the motion into several key categories.

In the end, council voted in favour of having the current curbside garbage collection program be modified at the start of the new waste collection contract. The modification means only hard-sided garbage containers will be accepted at the curb. Additionally, council also voted in favour of the collection frequency being changed to bi-weekly, should a curbside Green Bin Program be implemented.

According to the report, Chatham-Kent’s garbage generation has increased 25 percent over the last seven years, and organic waste makes up around 30 percent of residential garbage.

However, Ward 3 councillor Steve Pinsonneault said he had received many calls on the garbage pickup issues facing Ridgetown. He added that the tight spaces on Main Street make garbage pickup much more difficult if faced with using a garbage toter.

“The last garbage pickup, the guy has to tow the toter around the parked cars to dump it. That’s more work than picking up a garbage bag. The Main Street merchants put their garbage out in the morning in a bag, and it’s been working awesome,” he said.

The local councillor added garbage frequency being changed to bi-weekly would be hazardous for businesses.

“A lot of businesses are saying they are struggling to make it through one week, let alone having to make it two weeks,” said Pinsonneault.

The current weekly curbside garbage collection program limits the amount of collectable garbage at the curb to one toter cart or three garbage bags per residential unit and five toter carts or 2.0 cubic meters per industrial, commercial, or institutional property.

Council also voted in favour of the bulk item collection program being offered on a quarterly basis, upon scheduling by residents, and with a limit of three bulk items per dwelling unit per collection.

Councillor Anthony Ceccacci said the bulk collection program is a subject of issues time after time. He said he often hears how about people’s garbage not being picked up.

“I really hope all council is aware of the significant amount of issues this will cause when we reduce the pickup because the enforcement of this piece is very time-consuming. We are talking weeks before things are addressed, if not months,” he said. “This will cause significant issues in the municipality that we will have to re-revisit, and that will cause more than continuing the service how it is.”

Also approved was a feasibility study for a comprehensive Organics Diversion Program. This means a curbside Green Bin Program phased in 2025/2026, a backyard composter program administered in 2024, a transfer station organics diversion program feasibility study and a two-year Organics Diversion Program Manager position, a one-time cost of $257,416, be referred to the 2023 budget.

In relation to Chatham-Kent’s eight transfer station operations, council voted the hours of operations of the Dover, Harwich, and Wallaceburg Transfer Stations be increased by eight, five, and four hours per week, respectively.

Also seeing changes will be the Chatham Leaf and Yard Depot. Council voted in favour of having the weekly hours of operations be maintained, and the Romney Leaf and Yard Depot hours of operations be reduced to bi-weekly year-round.

An annual amount of $80,000 from the Recycling WDO Reserve will be committed to funding the Waste Management promotion and education initiatives, starting in 2024, and running until the reserve funds are exhausted.

To maintain levels of service and provide succession planning, two full-time positions, an Operation Supervisor and an Administrative Assistant II, be referred to the 2023 budget.

It is expected an organics diversion program will be up for discussion again as part of the municipality’s next waste management contract. The current contract is set to expire on December 31, 2023.

This item reprinted with permission from The Independent News, Ridgetown, Ontario