• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Simcoe County Waste Management Collection – Another ill-conceived debacle

In Bill French - The Mayor
Dec 13th, 2021
Simcoe County Warden George Cornell compares the old recycling bin with the new wheeled cart. – Janis Ramsay/Metroland

Opinion piece by Bill French

Why does the County of Simcoe seem to always miss the target with its Waste Management system? First it was Site 41, the ill-fated landfill that was planned to be placed on some of most pristine water aquifers in the world in Tiny Township.

The next will be the bad planning and location of their Environmental Resource Recovery Centre, an organics processing plant along with a sorting and transfer station on the Freele Tract Forest lands on Horseshoe Valley Road with wetlands and steep slopes along with a traffic safety issue that will cost millions to correct. By their own admission, the best location would have been on Snow Valley Road west of Bayfield on Ministry Lands called the Hasty Tract behind the museum that are already controlled because of soil contamination from chemical leakage and a major fire years ago. That would have been a better location instead of in the middle of a forest in an agricultural area.

Now we have launched a very expensive collection system that will cost us all at least 50% more by their own admission and no guarantee that will be the end of the costs for this new adventure into the unknown. If it’s such a great solution as touted by the Warden and County staff, why is Barrie and Orillia not following suit?

The big problem is that as soon as we get a new Warden and Council they seem to have a frontal lobotomy causing them to always revert to staff instead of providing good leadership. I witnessed that during my 4 years on County Council and found out quickly that, I along with a few, were even willing to question anything coming from staff. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are some excellent staff at the County, but they are there to provide the needs of the people as proposed and tabled by the local Mayors and Deputy Mayors and to be frank your elected members are coming up short. They seem to twiddle with some minor adjustments of proposals and then rubber stamp the next thing put on their tables.

I sent this to Mayor Allen and Deputy Mayor Coughlin. I heard nothing from Allen, which I expected. At least Coughlin responded that she directed my comments and questions to staff at the County. They both ignored the fact that the questions were directed to them.

“County Councillors Allen and Coughlin:

I am curious how deep the research went into the development of the new robotic container and waste management system for the County that is supposed to launch Nov 1. As one that managed and taught Lean and JIT management for 40 years, there appears to be some huge gaps.

The one consideration that seems lacking was engagement of the public (the actual user) or launching a real world pilot program in one small area with a mix of residential and rural homes. This new system may be as misguided as was Site 41 was 10 years ago that finally died a very expensive death. I hope Rick Milne’s plea to delay the program did not fall on deaf ears at the County. (I now find out that plea fell on deaf ears)

Some questions and observations:

1. The intent of all Waste systems is to reduce volumes and direct waste to the proper streams. How will garbage containers that will hold about 4 standard bags of garbage reduce waste, as I expect it will increase the volume?

2. Simple question, “why are all the containers so large?”

3. I timed the current truck that travels my 1.6 km of road and makes 8 stops on one side and it takes him less than 10 minutes from Sunnidale to CR90. The travel time of the truck is about 4 minutes with stops and starts. Using the robotic arm, the driver will spend at least 90 seconds to 2 minutes at each stop or about 12 to 16 minutes with a total time of 16 to 20 minutes or about 60 to 100% increase in time required or stated another way a reduction of 40 to 50% efficiency. Does the new contract include doubling the number of trucks and drivers? Did you not know that in the world of truck driving in Canada at the present time the void is about 15,000 shy of what is needed? This alone will cause a total collapse with the new system, aside from the normal start-up headaches. The poor performance of Progressive will pale in comparison to this start-up.

4. With the humungous size of the new containers, did anyone even consider the difficulty of getting these monstrosities to the road side? Currently, I use a small children’s wagon in summer and a small sleigh in winter to transport everything to the roadside. How am I expected to get it there now, pull out my farm tractor and loader? I also expect being close to the roadside that my usual 8 a.m. snow plow will push it back into my driveway much further than the arm could ever reach.

As my County representative, use your voice and put a pause on this ill conceived solution to waste management. This is not sunny flat Florida where it might work well in densely populated areas with no snow.” That ends the email to Mayor Allen and Deputy Mayor Coughlin.

Some further thoughts.

My daughter in Midland lives on a narrow lot and has a short driveway and will have to leave these unsightly monsters at the edge of the sidewalk as she has no other place for them unless she moves the two cars out of the driveway when they are moved. I saw an illustration by the County suggesting they be left near the edge of the road behind a hedge or fence. Who will pay for that addition if you don’t currently have those amenities, such as myself? I think even Warden Cornell suggested that idea as a solution. I like Cornell and am quite surprised that he allowed himself to be the puppet for this ill conceived plan.

So the County elected officials are suggesting that you put on your parka and make multiple trips during the week and travel to the end of your driveway to deposit each small collection of your garbage, recycling and compost, instead at depositing it at your back door as I do? Bizarre! And by the way Warden Cornell on CTV News commented this new approach is only costing you 50% more than the old contract. Didn’t seem to phase or concern him one bit. I guess he forgets he is also a taxpayer.

Usually solutions are to resolve problems. The problem was a scarcity of good drivers and missed pickups. I will even agree with a small part of the problem being back strains, not because of garbage or recycling handling but the weight of the compost bucket, which after having hauled it to the curb many times, is heavy. Those are the only things that needed addressed, not the entire waste transportation system. A hybrid system of the current manual load with a small arm to help lift Compost would have been a better transition.

We now have a solution that is solving problems we never had and it will definitely not be a smooth transition and is quite expensive and they are adding costs ever day, such as over a million the first year to allow a limited exchange in size of containers plus adding more staff to an already bloated County operation.

It is unfortunate that this is just the next faux pas in the County waste management journey and it won’t be the last unless we have some elected County Councillors step up and take charge instead of simply delegating to staff, which seems to be the norm at the Municipal level, as we see in Springwater happening all the time. Our Mayor and Deputy Mayor are coated with Teflon and nothing sticks to them.

Bill French served as Mayor of Springwater and a County of Simcoe Councillor from 2014 to 2018 and has taught business at the college level for over 15 years.

2 Responses to “Simcoe County Waste Management Collection – Another ill-conceived debacle”

  1. Donna Deneault says:

    Bill French is spot on! The word “debacle” sums it up nicely. We sincerely hope this can be fixed.

  2. Connie says:

    I have a long driveway ( 1/3 mile) with a big hill on it. I can leave the containers near the roadside but on windy days they blowaround and end up in the middle of the driveway. What will happen when the wheels get frozen in ? On milder days, the lock mechanism on the green bin freezes at night after melting in the sunshine. I am not always able to get it working. The smaller bins have smaller wheels and would be harder to move around in the snow or in the gravel in the summer. (no paved road here! Or a shoulder wide enough to accommodate the bins. I use my neighbour’s farm entrance!

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