Penetanguishene political heads were talking trash recently — about trash.
Following a future waste management orientation session at Simcoe County council recently, both Mayor Doug Rawson and Deputy Mayor Dan La Rose brought up the topic of landfill capacity at the latest regular council meeting.
‘We were talking trash all day down there,” La Rose said in the meeting. “It was very interesting to find out we collect about 104,000 tonnes of garbage.
“The good news is that our organic collectionv… rose by about nine per cent. That’s very good to hear, and that puts us in second place in the entire province for organics collection. So that’s a good sign," he added.
The remarks were further weighted by Rawson who said that several things at the county meeting “resonated” with him.
“We were talking about garbage and we were talking about how the province proper had an 11-year life cycle left for landfill of our garbage, and the county has less than three years,” Rawson said. “Really, the push is we really need to be focused on more diversion to recycling and organics. The deputy-mayor spoke that we are second in the province, but we’ve got to do more.”
In an interview, Rawson expanded on the importance of bringing that message to residents.
“Even in our municipality, we don’t do a great job of garbage, recycling and composting,” said Rawson. “If you go to any municipal park really, it’s hard to find recycle bins, it’s hard to find organic bins.
“I think we need to lead by example, and that’s something that we can do pretty darn quick. I think from the municipal sector to our own homes, we need to be thinking about how we can lead this better, and how we can do a better job overall.”
Rawson shared that with time running out on the landfills, staff at county council would be bringing forward some items regarding next steps which could be costly but a necessity all the same.
“I think that’s part of my role is that I really want to educate people that we’ve got to think twice before we put things in the garbage,” said Rawson. “If you can use organics, if you can use recycling – we need to do more of that.”
As Rawson and town council will be in office when the three-year deadline arrives for the Simcoe County landfill, he was asked if there was anything he could do before the time-consuming regional staff report would arrive.
“We don’t need to wait for the report to make a decision at county council; there’s things we can do now. One of the reasons I brought that up last week (at Penetanguishene council) was to really put this to the forefront," he said.
“One is the bilingual mailed newsletter to everyone’s front door; our next one’s going out in July and I want to be having a strong message on there about waste and waste diversion, and I think that’s one key that everybody in the community gets the same message," Rawson added.
Rawson added that education in schools also laid the foundation for handling waste management at home.
“If we teach the benefits at an early age, they tend to translate to changing perception of the way business is done at home. I think that’s a winning formula.”
When asked if there were a challenge Penetanguishene could put to the neighbouring municipalities of Midland, Tiny Township and Tay Township within northern Simcoe County, he responded that he felt that would be the lens of perspective municipalities would need in facing the future of waste management for the area.
On the Ontario Waste Management Association website a running clock displays the approximate time left before the province’s landfills are at capacity, with the number sitting at 10.5 years as of publication.