Expansion is a must as Landfill in Saugeen Shores nears capacity

Council received a comprehensive report regarding the Southampton landfill on Monday, May 8th (2023) and, according to the report based on past usage, there are only seven years left until full capacity.

In 2019, the landfill site saw a huge increase in metric tons delivered to the site at more than 20,000 with less than half diverted.

The reported increase in the volume of waste in 2019 may have been due to the increased  construction and growth, waste placement, compaction practices, and inaccuracies associated with survey methodology. “Since this was identified improvements and efficiencies have been incorporated with compaction and operational procedures,” said Larry Gill, Town Operations Manager in his report.

In 2020, with the support of GM BluePlan, the Town began the process of landfill expansion. During this time, the Town has completed the hydrogeological study, species at risk study, and the Stage 1 archaeological study. The Stage 2 archaeological study is due to be completed this spring and the full scope of the environmental assessment will be completed in late summer 2023. The environmental assessment process is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2023 when the background studies are finalized.

Deputy Mayor Diane Huber said that the seven year capacity is “an incredible number”.  She pointed out that the ‘Waste Management’ amount on tax bills was in preparation of the costs that would be incurred for landfill expansion.  “Some people may not make the connection between the amount on their tax bill and expansion and seven years is a pretty powerful number.”

Councillor Cheryl Grace said she was pleased that the diversion rate is going up but that the Town at 42 per cent is still below the provincial average.  In 2019, the provincial rate was 49.7 per cent and the 2030 target is 50 per cent.  “I realize that the one of the big challenges has been construction waste and that staff has done a lot of work to come up with solutions to mitigate the affects of construction waste.  It’s not as easy as people thing given that there are certain types of paints used that eliminates items from being recycled and it’s a complex problem.”

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She added that there are programs that are good examples of recycling such as the new food composting program, one-time film plastics recycling and the large styrofoam processing program.  “These are examples of how staff have really been creative and supportive of these innovative ways of diversion that a lot of municipalities are not doing.”

“The construction waste has been challenging,” said Gill, “but staff are working at ways to resolve and better manage the problem.”

Mayor Luke Charbonneau said that when he recently attended the symposium on Climate hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW), “…folks didn’t know about these programs and they were people who are plugged in and concerned about these things like film plastics.  To us it may seem mundane and obvious because we’ve been doing it for such a long time … but we have to be promoting these programs over and over again repeatedly to remind people that these programs exist.”

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“We need to do more diversion and will be doing more given the change in recycling that is coming in Ontario,” added the Mayor. “Even with all of that, we are going to need landfill expansion in concert with, and in addition to, landfill diversion.  It’s important that people realize that Council is going to have to divert funds to get a landfill expansion.  We’ve seen this coming for a long time as the Deputy Mayor pointed out and we are well prepared for it.  We’ve been generating revenue resources to make that possible and the work is already underway but it takes a long time.  It’s a complicated and expensive process and we are going to work through but it is going to happen.”

To read the full report, CLICK HERE