Dysart looks into options for future waste disposal

By James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

It’s a suitable time for Dysart to consider how waste management services can better cater to taxpayers.

Andrew Buzza and Perry Larochelle of JP2G Consultants Inc. reviewed Dysart’s waste management service. John Watson, the town’s environmental manager, gave an overview of that review during a special council meeting Dec. 5.

Any site reconfigurations would likely be in place for the next 25 to 30 years.

“So we’re making potentially substantial changes that are going to be long lasting for our community,” Watson said.

Dysart has a footprint of about 14,000 square kilometres with as many as 7,300 households. There is no curbside garbage collection, but there are five operating disposal sites.

“This informs our delivery of waste management services to our ratepayers,” Watson said.

The municipality hosts a very extensive drop off program, including two-stream recycling at all sites. Two landfills take scrap metal and appliances.

Tires are accepted at the Haliburton and Harcourt landfills.

Construction and demolition waste is accepted at three of the five sites.

In 2022, Dysart managed 8,866 metric tonnes of waste.

“In terms of the vehicle counts during COVID, we did see a big spike in the number of people visiting our sites,” he said. “Our 2023 vehicle counts are likely going to be on par, if maybe one per cent more than we experienced in 2022.”

One of the things to keep in mind when looking ahead at the future of Dysart’s waste disposal is that none of the landfills has a scale system that would enable the municipality to charge users per metric tonne disposed. That’s as opposed to a visual inspection at arrival and charging by cubic yard of waste.

The township has socked away $20,000 every year in a reserve fund over the last number of years to pay for a scale system, he said. So far, there’s $120,000 in that reserve fund earmarked for scales.

Starting in 2026, Dysart won’t be able to mix residential and commercial Blue Box refuse.

“Dysart council will need to decide whether it wishes to provide Blue Box services to the commercial sector,” Watson said. “There’s no regulatory obligation to do so.”

If council decides to make such a move, it has to be figured out if the handling and processing of Blue Box materials will be paid for through taxes or by way of a user pays system.

There’s a plethora of issues to consider when surveying waste management, from composting and yard waste, consolidating dumped materials to one landfill as opposed to two or three, and what types of refuse goes where.

The Harcourt Landfill is nearing the end of its life, he said. It’s anticipated that the province will demand Dysart transforms it to a transfer station.

“Most likely this coming year in 2024,” Watson said.

That conversion will entail infrastructure changes like adding possibly four more collection bays for materials to be picked up for trucking.

An option for the West Guilford Landfill is for Dysart to make it exclusively for the use of the commercial sector to drop off garbage and Blue Box materials and for individual residents to dispose of construction and demolition waste.

“The scale system will be installed there,” he said. “The ratepayers dropping off construction, demolition waste will be weighed in, drop off their materials, and weigh out. And they’d pay based on the metric tonne.”

Watson said the coin needed to reconfigure that landfill site could be as much as $1-million.

“This figure is very back-of-a-napkin, for sure,” he said.

Questions about next steps for the municipality’s waste management include whether the township plans to offer Blue Box services to the commercial sector starting January 2026 and, if so, what sites would accept commercial Blue Box; where a scale system may be installed; which site(s) should accept construction and demolition waste; and whether a mattress and boxspring recycling program be implemented at Haliburton Landfill.

Dysart council deferred a decision about the mattress recycling program at its Nov. 28 meeting.

“We’re under no time crunch,” Watson said. “Just that we want to have the program in place in the new year. It’s something we can include it in budget as well.”