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How Midland handles biowaste raises stink in north Simcoe

As cost-saving measure for its aged wastewater treatment plant, Midland plans to stop accepting septage from anyone but own ratepayers
Tiny Township municipal office located on Balm Beach Rd. Staff photo/MidlandToday

There was a bit of a stink when Midland dropped a bombshell in December that, as a cost-saving measure for their aged wastewater treatment centre, they would be closing the lid on accepting septage from anyone but their own ratepayers on the system.

As the largest contributor to the plant with 59 per cent of all processed septage, in contrast to Midland’s own 12 per cent, that put Tiny Township in a bind with the March 6 deadline for closure.

A report was brought to the recent council meeting when public works director Tim Leitch provided an update and staff recommendation for a three-month extension to the neighbouring town.

“This is a big concern for Tiny, of course,” Leitch said, explaining that while summer months allow for the spreading of septage onto fields from holding and septic tanks, residents requiring those tanks to be pumped during winter would be impacted by the decision.

By contrast, as portable toilets and marine systems cannot be spread on fields, they would require processing at Barrie, Orillia or Collingwood treatment facilities along with a likely price increase as a result.

“We had a chance to meet,” said Leitch, referencing the CAOs and mayors as well as his public works counterparts, “and we talked about this at a subsequent meeting … to go through some different options.

“The one thing that was really pointed out was providing us with the proper amount of time to do a thorough study on what type of options are available, what impacts this will have on the township, and also soliciting to see if we can continue the previous discussions of septage management for Tiny and for everybody in Ontario that has to deal with septic tanks – especially in rural areas,” Leitch added.

Tiny staff had recommended in the report that their council send a formal request to Midland’s council to request the three-month extension, stating that it was a time-sensitive matter due to the Midland’s budget timeline.

The request would also allow Tiny residents to continue at current rates until the field-spreading season started.

“Midland has been very open to discussions and are very committed to helping us come up with a solution," said Tiny Township Mayor Dave Evans.

“I’m firmly in belief that it’s a lot cheaper, first of all, than us building our own facility as we’ve seen in other municipalities — Tay being one of them," he added. 

His underlying motive, he stated, was if Tiny were to invest in the Midland wastewater treatment centre, then they would want to take an ownership position, use it as a revenue source, and manage it themselves.

“And Midland is open to that," Evans said. 

Council approved the recommendation for a three-month extension to be asked of Midland council.

The Midland wastewater treatment centre report for receiving septage can be viewed on the agenda page on the Tiny Township website.

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Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Derek Howard covers Midland and Penetanguishene area civic issues under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada.
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