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Waste Strategy – Consultation and Consensus

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In Simcoe County
Feb 16th, 2010
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From Gord McKay, of Zero Waste Simcoe
The County’s three public consultation sessions on our waste future have just wrapped up. Some 250 people attended, providing feedback through a formatted workbook and somewhat fractious Town Hall meetings.
Much of the meeting time was devoted to Stantec, the County’s waste consultant, presenting what the County’s waste options were. Public participants faced a steep learning curve trying to make sense of the 40-50 waste options presented, and then providing feedback on a very complex topic.
So what was the message given to Stantec? Zero Waste was mentioned many times and in many different ways. Some named Zero Waste directly.  Others referred to better reduction programs.  Many expressed distaste for land-filling our garbage.  Some spoke on ways of cutting back on residential waste.  In the end there was no spoken conclusion but it was clear that the public wanted to see a change in how we handle waste. County Council had also asked for change. Their direction to the Waste Management Strategy Steering Committee was to “consider and incorporate the principles of Zero Waste”  (Recommendation CS-165-09). So if change is needed, our challenge is to ensure that this change in policy direction is understood and embraced by both Stantec and our County Councillors.
Clearly trying to weigh the 40-50 different waste options and choose the best is difficult. By fighting over what is “the best” we run the risk of missing what is essential. What will set us firmly on the course for Zero Waste? (Remember the vision question) If we choose the foundation policies properly, then most of the remaining 40-50 options will fall into place. 
Let me propose the following four Zero Waste foundations:
      1) No more new landfills
      2) Manage and process all organics within Simcoe County
      3) Support and advocate for the province’s move towards full EPR
      4) Partner with the public to reduce and reuse waste
These are the major policy statements. These four measures, if adopted, will show that the County is well on its way to a Zero Waste future. 
Now that we have a simple message we have to act.  Take every opportunity to talk to your County Councillors about the need for Zero Waste. Tell him/her that if our strategy contains the four foundations above, we will get there.
Stantec will report back on what our waste options are on March 1st at 9:00 am. Let’s ensure that our choices will give us a Zero Waste future.
Gord McKay is vice-chair of the Simcoe County waste strategy steering committee, which next meets March 1st in Midhurst. He is also a Midland councillor.

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