News Local

Springwater site tops list for organics facility

Cheryl Browne

By Cheryl Browne, Barrie Examiner

The County of Simcoe released this image of what the proposed organics processing facility will look like. The preferred site is 2976 Horseshoe Valley Rd. West in Springwater Township.

The County of Simcoe released this image of what the proposed organics processing facility will look like. The preferred site is 2976 Horseshoe Valley Rd. West in Springwater Township.

A self-fulfilling waste prophecy is in the county's hands.

To reach a net-zero waste cycle in our lifetimes, Simcoe County waste management officials announced Tuesday they have determined a location for a new dual organics and waste facility on 200 acres of forested land on Horseshoe Valley Road north of Barrie.

“It's the right thing to do, not only for our citizens who live in the County of Simcoe today, but generations ahead of ourselves who will benefit from the organics processing and materials facility for the benefits of the overall environment,” said Warden Gerry Marshall at the Simcoe County Museum, Tuesday morning.

Marshall and Rob McCullough, director of solid waste management, presented their research and details of their consultation process with the help of GHD's Dr. Tej Gidda, who has both the city of Toronto and Guelph's organic waste processing facilities as clients.

With an eye to the historical and spirited past demonstrations that accompanied the Site 41 landfill site talks in the northern quadrant of the county in 2009, the county's waste management team had their work cut out for them.

In addition to the area residents' reluctance to allow pristine land – and its aquifers – to be used for what were formerly known as garbage dumps, the province has moved forward with more strict guidelines by legislating Bill 151 Waste-Free Ontario Act, which demands higher diversion from landfills for both organic and material recycling.

“One of the first strategies they're going to be looking at is an organics processing or organics management strategy,” McCullough said. “We know there's limited available capacity to deal with organics and we know there's going to be nothing but more organics coming. We handle quite a lot of organics right now in Simcoe County – about 10,000 tonnes a year – and we're only capturing one-third of that.

“So we know there's up to 30,000 tonnes that's already available in our waste stream, and with the growth that's coming in this area, we need to address this,” he added.

With that in mind, McCullough said they called in the experts to begin the five-year process of creating

a solid-waste strategy and ways to divert more waste until everything is reused.

As Marshall pointed out, by 2030 there will be 400,000 residents in Simcoe County.

“I've learned with the provincial and federal governments, you've got to think long before you can think short,” Marshall said. “By that I mean, we need to be thinking of 40 years from now and wanting to be at zero waste. And if we want to be there by 2050, what are the steps we need to take between now and 2050 to deliver that? And this (strategy) is the most meaningful step along that conversation.”

By March 2015, management officials had a list of a potential 502 sites. Last August, they had whittled that down to 53 sites that would work as an organic processing facility (green-bin food) and another 23 sites suitable for materials management facility or a transfer station.

Those products, McCullough said, are the items currently picked up at the curb, brought to a facility, sorted into large piles and picked up by larger trucks and shipped to a processing centre where they are recycled or destroyed.

As the process continued, the county narrowed it down into seven sites that were offered for discussion through public consultation last fall.

The site at 2976 Horseshoe Valley Rd. E. in Springwater Township was determined to be suitable for both an organics processing plant and a materials management facility.

The other sites dropped from the list included Line 5 in Oro-Medonte Township, 1453 Flos Rd. 3 E., 1473/1273 Old Second S. 540/528 Penetanguishene Rd. and 2249 Flos Rd. 7 E. in Springwater, as well as 1637 Fairgrounds Rd. N. in Clearview Township.

Staff say benefits of this site include space for a fully-contained building -- which won't leach dirty run-off water into the soil -- and it will be placed in the centre of the 200 acres, at least half-a-kilometre away from any business or home.

The site selection will be brought before Simcoe County's committee of the whole next Tuesday and, if recommended, will be introduced at county council on March 22. A tentative public information session is scheduled for April 19 at the Simcoe County Museum.