County eyes sites for organics waste facility
Simcoe County wants to take control of its future waste-management plans.
With a commitment not to create more landfills, the county is looking to construct its own organics processing facility — currently the county hauls approximately 10,000 tonnes per year of green-bin material to a facility in Hamilton — and a materials management facility, a transfer station that would expand the county's ability to manage its waste.
The organics processing facility would process organics — green bin material and potentially materials such as leaf and yard waste, pet waste and diapers — and convert them into products such as compost or fertilizer.
The materials management facility would consolidate and transfer waste from collection vehicles for more economical shipment to other disposal and/or processing locations.
The facilities could potentially be located on the same property.
At a committee of the whole meeting on August 11, County Councillors were presented with a report which summarizes a short list of proposed sites, and asked to approve the next stage: public consultation and input.
The County started with a list of over 500 potential sites for one or both of the proposed facilities. The report short-listed 7 sites, all of them in Clearview, Springwater or Oro-Medonte.
"We're going to council with seven sites and five of those could house either/or facility... We anticipate directing staff to identify which one of those sites is the ideal location for the organics facility, which one of those sites is ideal for the materials management facility and which one is ideal to house both facilities at one location," explained County Warden Gerry Marshall.
"We want to work with the citizens and ask those same questions. It's critical that our citizens be engaged. This is an exciting project," Marshall added.
"We want public input to help us understand which of the sites are best in all three scenarios and then take that so when we make our final decision, we've got it from our staff, we've got it from our consultants and we've got it from the public," he added. "That will help council make that final decision."
Creating the materials management facility could save approximately $13 million over 20 years, Marshall said.
"We'll have the opportunity to divert more waste and we'll be able to introduce about $2.1 million from the Continuous Improvement Fund from the federal and provincial programs," he said.
While savings from the organics processing facility might be harder to nail down at this point, it will be a win-win for taxpayers and the environment, he said, diverting waste from landfill, and producing good quality compost and fertilizer.
"It's the right thing to do, it's the right time to do it and we're going to make sure the process we execute is the right one as well," he added.
Rob McCullough, the county's director of solid waste management, said a combination of the right sites and the right technology are key for the organics facility.
"Council and citizens have asked us to look at increasing the kinds of materials that can go into our green bins like pet waste — right away — and maybe in the long term, diapers. The technology for handling the diapers is a little more expensive so it's a little harder to say at this point what that cost savings would be," he said. "We'll certainly be saving a lot of money — and the environment — in the haulage because right now, all that material is leaving the county everyday going down to Hamilton."
Whatever site or sites are chosen, reducing the effect on county residents will also be taken into consideration, McCullough said.
"Of the factors that are going into to reduce the off-site impact, the most important one is being taken now and that's the siting, to make sure we have good reasonable sites that have within them not only room for the development for the facilities, but a buffer around them," he said. "The most important factor to prevent off-site odours is to make sure we put the right technology in and that will be the next step of this phase.
"Once we pick the right site, we'll be involving public input about what the right technology to put on the property."
The timing of the projects is also difficult to predict, he added.
"In the perfect world, you could see something in five years, but that imagines everything going smoothly," McCullough said. "But none of these sites are properly zoned for that right now so there are a lot of zoning changes (required). There are submissions to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Control to get the proper licencing in place to operate them and these are factors that are beyond our control. We can put the submissions in but how long to get those approvals back will take some time to tell."
Consultations with the townships involved will also be necessary, he added.
Dates will soon be announced about when public consultations will take place in the fall. Feedback can be submitted directly at www.simcoe.ca or by calling 1-800-263-3199.
Summary of short-listed sites
Potential sites for organics processing facility only
- - 2249 Flos Rd. 7 East, Springwater Twp.
- - 1637 Fairgrounds Rd. North, Clearview Twp.
Potential shared sites for materials management facility and organics processing facility
- - 1473/1273 Old Second South, Springwater Twp.
- - 2976 Horseshoe Valley Rd. W., Springwater Twp.
- - Line 5 North, Oro-Medonte Twp.
- - 1453 Flos Rd. 3 E., Springwater Twp.
- - 540/528 Penetanguishene Rd., Springwater Twp.