By James Matthews
Algonquin Highlands is on its way to having a clearer picture of what it will take for a single county-wide waste management system.
Council agreed during regular meeting on Aug. 11 to get behind a request for proposals toward identifying a delivery model for unified waste management. The goal is to get information on how to best deliver such a county-wide service.
It’s another step in a process that began about two years ago.
The county and its four lower-tier municipalities engaged StrategyCorp to undertake a service delivery review in 2020. The review’s final report was delivered in November that year.
Waste services ranked highly in the Haliburton Municipalities Service Delivery Review’s six key customer-facing areas.
In that regard, the final report urged the establishment of a waste committee of representatives from each municipality. The committee will review county-wide waste facilities and work toward a standardized waste policy for Haliburton County.
Each of the four lower-tier municipalities will kick in coin equally to cover 50 per cent of the study’s cost, with the remaining half contributed by the county.
The consultant from the RFP is to research, analyze, and recommend a single-tier waste management service delivery model for the county that could maximize administrative efficiencies; harmonize and standardize policies, procedures, and services; be cost effective; and provide exceptional customer service opportunities.
“It’s a what-if investigation to get a picture painted to see what would be involved,” said Melissa Murray, the township’s environmental coordinator.
Mayor Carol Moffatt said the consolidation of waste management service is something many people have lobbied for over the years.
Tenders for operation centre drastically over budget
Township staff were asked to continue negotiations to try to bring the lowest bid for Maple Lake Waste Disposal Site Operations Centre’s construction closer to the amount budgeted for the job.
The construction cost was earmarked at $1-million in the 2022 municipal budget.
All the bids received were “fairly substantially over budget,” Murray said.
The lowest bid garnered through a July RFP for the centre’s construction was $245,000 more than what was budgeted for the work. Staff will continue talking with that company to try to lower their price. Staff will meet with council later this month to report on any progress.
“The world is a crazy place in terms of supply and demand,” the mayor said, and added that the intent of continued negotiations isn’t to remove anything from the project.
“The Maple Lake landfill situation is frustrating for a lot of people,” she said.
The landfill’s current layout is no longer able to handle traffic or material volumes. The next area for landfilling requires moving existing buildings and collection areas.
Given the challenges of having to keep moving and reconfiguring the site to accommodate landfilling, and the challenges of developing infrastructure on a waste mound, staff recommended that consideration be given to a more long-term approach to site development and to consider moving forward with the construction of a new operations centre away from the waste mound.
The new operations centre will make the landfill efficient and more cost-effective.
“Right now it is neither,” Moffatt said.
GPS system can improve staff safety
The Department of Parks, Recreation, and Trails is looking into a new global positioning system to keep track of staff in the field.
Staff are currently required to do radio check-ins when they’re in the field. And Chris Card, the department’s manager, said being able to more accurately discern the location of field staff by satellite will make their jobs safer.
It’s better risk management in the event of an emergency. Radio contact can be lost should a staff member have a medical emergency in the field. And search and rescue personnel would be able to save response time with GPS help.
“Like all technology, it takes a little bit of time for people to get used to it,” Card said.