MRC PONTIAC – Tom Orr, former owner of Tom Orr Cartage Construction (TOCC) in Shawville, attended the Council of Mayors meeting June 20 to deliver some alarming news regarding garden and yard waste management. Following an inspection about a month ago, the Shawville/Clarendon transfer site was notified by the Ministry of the Environment on June 19 that not only is the site no longer able to accept grass, brush and leaves, but that the large pile already occupying the site must also be moved to an authorized disposal site.
“For nine years, accepting these materials was okay, and now all of a sudden it isn’t,” explained Orr, who said he was not able to find any change in the regulations. While Orr no longer owns the business, he was asked by the new owners to help deal with the issue, given his extensive knowledge of waste management. Orr believes the Shawville/Clarendon site is only the first to receive the news and that others will soon be facing a similar dilemma, which will be costly and could cause pandemonium among residents.
“After nine years, people are just getting used to having to pay to get rid of their garbage. It will cost a fortune to dispose of something that revenue wasn’t collected from,” said Orr, noting most transfer sites accept the materials free of charge. The decision is effective immediately and the business has 30 days to remove the pile.
“It is an abrupt change and puts a lot of pressure on the owners. There has to be some sort of gradual integration,” he added, stating that removing the pile – and future debris – could cost as much as $100/ ton if it needs to be transported to Lachute, which amounts to approximately $100,000 for the current pile. “It could cost as much to dispose of as regular garbage,” he said, emphasizing the carbon footprint created from transporting the materials elsewhere. At the Shawville/Clarendon site, the pile was occasionally turned with the goal of creating topsoil or compost.
The Pontiac Sorting Center in Litchfield accepts branches, trees and shrubs at a rate of $26.25 per ton (excluding transportation), but not grass, leaves and other garden waste. “This type of decision has the potential to bankrupt small businesses and it puts a huge strain on municipalities because they haven’t budgeted for it,” Orr told the Journal.
Sandra Murray, Shawville mayor, said that if residents are forced to pay to dispose of these materials, they will end up in area ditches instead. “If they have other garbage, they may dump it there at the same time,” she cautioned.
Warden Jane Toller said she will speak to Pontiac MNA André Fortin and with help from the MRC’s enviromental department, members of the FQM and Orr,
will assess the situation immediately.
TOCC is now waiting for direction from the MRC and Shawville/ Clarendon about what to do. Until then, they continue to accept the materials. Orr concluded saying, “Maybe it’s just a misunderstanding, but to me, the message seemed really clear”.