User-pay plan “inevitable”? Branch and garden waste going up in smoke

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Allyson Beauregard


Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC – Tom Orr, former owner of Tom Orr Cartage Construction (TOCC) in Shawville, attended the Council of Mayors meeting in June to deliver news about changes to garden and yard waste management.  According to Orr, the Ministry of the Environment has now proposed an alternative to transporting the nine years’ worth of garden and branch waste occupying the Shawville/Clarendon transfer site elsewhere – controlled burning.
Following a Ministry inspection in May, the Shawville/Clarendon transfer site was notified June 19 that not only was the site no longer able to accept grass, brush and leaves, but that the large pile already there had to be moved to an authorized disposal site, which Orr estimated could have cost as much as $100,000.
“For nine years, accepting these materials was okay, and then all of a sudden it wasn’t,” explained Orr, who said he was not able to find any change in the regulations and that most transfer sites accept the materials free of charge; he estimates that between 20-30 tons is brought to the Shawville/ Clarendon site per day. While he no longer owns the business, Orr was asked by the new owners to help deal with the issue, given his extensive knowledge of waste management.
After discussions among the Ministry, the TOCC owners and the municipalities of Shawville and Clarendon, the Ministry said the debris can be burned, but that waste cannot be stored on site after this winter.
According to Orr, the parties are looking into solutions, which could include transporting it to the authorized composting facility in Litchfield’s Industrial Park (Uteau), but that no firm decision has been made. 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.
The Ministry proposed re-opening the old municipal dump site and creating a
managed composting site there, which would require additional employees, special licensing, and possibly more infrastructure.
“It doesn’t make sense. If you’re going to compost it somewhere, it’s only logical to do it right here [at the current transfer site],” said Orr, confused about why the Ministry won’t allow it to be composted on site. The parties are determining if this option is possible and resources needed to do it. “I see no reason why what we’ve been doing for the last nine years isn’t okay,” he added, emphasizing the increased carbon footprint from transporting the waste elsewhere.
At the Shawville/Clarendon site, the pile was occasionally turned with the goal of creating topsoil or compost. “Under the pile, there’s beautiful organic compost. If it were left there, in about three years, there would just be loads of topsoil,” he told the Journal.  
Orr stated that not having to transport the debris elsewhere represents a huge cost savings but he added it is inevitable that residents will have to pay for branch and garden waste disposal in the future, through taxes or a user-pay system, and that other transfer sites may soon be facing the same situation. He said the Shawville/
Clarendon site will continue to accept the material until about November or December, but he is unsure of the course of action in the New Year. 
Discussions continue between the parties to come up with a firm solution.