Changes Dysart et al is making to its landfill sites, such as the one pictured above in West Guilford, could have negative effects on the construction industry, says the president of the Haliburton County Home Builders Association. /FILE PHOTO

Landfill changes pose problems for construction industry

By Mike Baker

Widespread changes recently introduced at five landfill sites in Dysart et al are going to have far-reaching negative impacts on the local construction industry, says the president of the Haliburton County Home Builders Association [HCHBA].

Late last month John Watson, Dysart’s environmental manager, released a notice highlighting numerous operational changes that would be coming into effect at the municipality’s dump sites as of May 1. Chief among those were new hours of operation, changes to the amount of garbage that would be accepted at no cost, and restrictions on the type of waste that can be disposed of.

New daytime hours are being incorporated at landfill sites in Haliburton, Harcourt, Kennisis Lake, West Bay and West Guilford. The Haliburton site, Dysart’s largest landfill, will be closed Monday and Tuesday, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and operating from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. The West Guilford location will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, closed on Wednesday and Thursday, and open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. The remaining facilities have varying hours between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

In terms of actual garbage, ratepayers with valid landfill identification user cards can drop off up to three bags of garbage in clear bags per week at no cost. Each additional bag of garbage in clear bags costs $2 each. Any bag of garbage in an opaque bag costs $2 each.

There were also changes made to allowances relating to construction and demolition waste. The cost to dispose of building materials, including shingles, is jumping up to $60 per cubic yard, a $10 increase.

These changes were news to Glenn Evans, HCHBA president, who says the local association was left in the dark throughout the process.

“As one of the larger employment groups, or economic groups in Haliburton County I would think we would have some input, or at least be respected a little bit to be consulted about these changes before they’re made,” Evans said.

Watson noted discussions surrounding the landfill had been ongoing during Dysart’s public council meetings since August 2020. A bylaw to adopt many of the proposed changes discussed during those meetings was passed on April 27.

He indicated the changes were necessary as the municipality looked for ways to cut costs and recoup expenses at its landfill sites.

“Updating the hours of operation at Dysart’s landfills will reduce costs, streamline services, and still provide timely ways for users to drop-off their waste materials,” Watston said. “Increased costs to Dysart to haul and process construction and demolition waste warranted an increase to the fees for users to drop-off their type of material.”

The reduced hours, in particular, are going to create a major problem for many construction workers around Haliburton County, Evans believes.

“Because of the distance most contractors have to drive between their job sites and their home or office locations, after they’ve worked a full day on-site, what they were typically doing was dumping a load of garbage [early the next morning], before embarking back up to their job site. That’s no longer going to be able to happen,” Evans said. “So now, contractors are going to have to make a decision between leaving a job site an hour, maybe two hours early to get to the dump before it closes at 5 p.m., or miss time in the morning to make a drop off. Most in our industry start [their day] at 7 a.m., so that’s a good chunk of the day gone, especially considering they’ll likely be waiting in line with three or four other guys looking to make drop offs. Obviously that’s going to create some problems.”

The increased cost per yard was a tough pill to swallow too, Evans noted. Dumps in Dysart charge per cubic yard for waste, rather than using weight, as is the industry standard. Because of this, those in the construction industry were already paying a premium in Dysart to drop off their waste materials.

“Construction waste in a trailer – think drywall, plywood, that kind of stuff – would probably weigh 300 or 400 pounds. In a traditional weight scale type of dumping facility that are in use pretty well everywhere else, they’re charging $200 per ton. If you look at how we’re billed per cubic yard, we’re probably paying around $500 [comparatively]. So we’re already paying far more than anywhere else in the province in order to dump our construction, even before the increase,” Evans said.

While businesses will have no other option than to accept those increased costs, Evans is hoping Dysart reconsiders its decision to no longer accept materials from large-scale demolition projects, such as complete house or cottage teardowns.

“Let’s say we have someone tearing down a cottage in Haliburton, before they would dispose of the materials at the Haliburton or West Guilford landfill. Now, with these changes, those trucks will need to go to Bracebridge. This is a cost that is going to go directly to the customer,” Evans said.

He estimated the cost for a complete teardown in Haliburton County could jump from around $5,000 up to $25,000.

“By the time you factor in the extra trucking, the extra time, the extra machine time… It’s going to be a significant hit to the individual cottage owner that is tearing down their cottage,” Evans noted.

Watson noted the three sites that currently accept waste from large scale teardowns – Haliburton, West Guilford and Harcourt – no longer has space to store those materials, and that the cost to haul them away for processing was “prohibitive.”

With the new bylaw passed and now in place, Evans was worried the additional costs could lead to some individuals looking for alternate ways to dispose of their waste materials. He feels some could try to burn their waste, or simply dump it.

Evans said he would be willing to come to the table, in his role as HCHBA president, to see if all parties can find some “common ground.”

“We would be more than willing to sit down and talk to them about a solution, talk to them about how we can all work together to achieve whatever it is they’re trying to achieve, without impeding what we’re trying to do. I’m sure there’s a common ground there somewhere,” Evans said. “I think it’s something we need to do. I’m concerned that, as time rolls on and summer gets into full swing, the problems this new bylaw has created are only going to escalate.”

For more information on the changes to Dysart landfills, visit