/Disposal of invasive snails raises questions from MH council
The Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Associations has created a program to mitigate populations of Chinese mystery snails, seen here, in Haliburton County lakes. /Photo submitted

Disposal of invasive snails raises questions from MH council

The following are brief reports of items discussed at a May 26 meeting of Minden Hills council, held in-person and broadcast via Zoom and YouTube.

By Sue Tiffin

Invasive snails removed from area lakes can be disposed of at Minden Hills waste disposal sites.

The snails must be double bagged in clear garbage bags, those bags having been solarized for at least 48 hours prior to disposal; be harvested by someone with a license to harvest them or who is listed on a license to harvest; and the harvest must be properly reported to the relevant governing body. 

Nikki Payne, manager of waste facilities, said fees will apply for bags brought in by residents over the three bag per week limit.

“We’re not really encouraging a bunch to be brought in, but definitely if people need to dispose of them they are able to bring them to our sites,” said Payne. 

Councillor Bob Carter said that while mystery snails are in the lakes, the majority are banded snails. 

“I have a problem with the three bag limit,” he said. “What happens is, this is not individuals taking it off their own property, or creating their own garbage, here. This tends to be groups of people who are licensed who may get together on a weekend to do a blitz.” 

Last year, Carter said, there was more than 500,000 snails removed from lakes in the county, and he expected this year to be similar. 

“I don’t think there should be a limit if a group of people get together – these people are getting together to save our lakes,” he said. “I think we should be accommodating them and working with them as much as possible.” 

Payne said the issue had been brought to her attention because Dysart et al does not accept the snails at their landfill sites and so she had spoken with lake associations and landfill staff about Minden’s messaging. She said landfill staff had not reported many being brought in, but said it might be mixed with general waste.

Carter said he had gone through the snail removal licensing training and said messaging was clear that snails should not be mixed with other garbage.

“Last year’s program was the first year the program was put in place so there were a few teething problems, including how to get rid of them,” he said. “I don’t know how many bags there were. It shouldn’t really be a problem, it’s not going to be truckloads of these things because they’re not very big. The second part of it is, the next part that will come up is phragmites, and various invasives that lake associations are working on, and those also have to be disposed of in a certain way – they can’t be burned, they have to go into garbage bags in landfills. There’s going to be a precedent here, but it really isn’t personal effects or personal garbage, this is an effort to clean up our lakes.” 

CAO Clerk Trisha McKibbin asked Payne if there was a reason for the three-bag limit, and if it could be lifted. 

Payne said that as with other garbage, residents would need to pay for bringing more than three bags in unless council decided otherwise. She said she would need to discuss with the Ministry if there was a limit to how many snails could be accepted at the landfill. 

Mayor Brent Devolin said he believed there was a consensus from council to waive the fee on additional bags of snails. McKibbin recommended Payne speak with the Ministry and report back.

Councillor Jennifer Hughey requested a potential education piece around the snails in the lake, noting they are not edible and people can become sick from digesting them.

Bill 109 causes concern 

Darryl Tighe, planning consultant, spoke to Bill 109, More Homes for Everyone Act, 2022, which includes changes to the Planning Act, and the planning process currently administered by the township. 

A consultation for review and comment on Bill 109 was to be open until April 27 this year, but the proposed legislation was instead fast-tracked by the province, receiving royal assent on April 14.

Tighe said there are “significant changes” to the Planning Act, including in three areas of the Act that affect the day-to-day operations of the municipality: zoning bylaws, site plan approval and plans of subdivision.  

The bill has been a controversial one for municipalities, with some asking for the province to pause the legislation until a more thorough consultation process can take place. One concern is that municipalities would need to refund zoning and site plan application fees to developers if timelines for review are not met.

“I believe that the majority of the planning profession are quite concerned with the fallout of this legislation,” said Tighe. “What the changes in the legislation will be doing, they’ll be uploading the real costs of development to the developer prior to them even making an application, so that is quite a heavy onus to place on the development community when they’re not even sure whether or not what they’re applying for will actually be approved.”

Mayor Brent Devolin said Bill 109 would create bigger challenges for the municipality.

“I mean, Bill 109 while noble in intent, in my opinion, was rushed,” he said, noting some requirements begin as early as July.

Councillor Pam Sayne said she also disapproved of the fast-tracking.

“It happened way too fast, part of it was proposed as a solution to our housing crisis we have in Ontario, and it’s outrageous it’s being taken out punitively on municipalities at this point,” she said. “We rely on that income to support our building department. If we are giving money back, that means that we are pulling from other departments and other resources in this municipality. That is totally unreasonable. There’s really a lack of understanding of how municipalities work in this provincial government right now and I’m very disappointed with not only the lack of understanding and dialogues ongoing with the province on this, but they’re fast-tracking it before the election as well.”

Electronic payment system soon at landfill

Payne reported the process for a debit/credit card machine at the Scotch Line landfill was in the final stages and would be in place in the next few weeks.

“That’s probably the biggest complaint I get about the landfill, is not having the cash for tipping or you have to leave and come back, so that’s appreciated, thank you so much,” said Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell.