/Working group to form around green burial initiative

Working group to form around green burial initiative

By Nick Bernard

The following are brief reports from an Algonquin Highlands regular council meeting held virtually on Jan. 20.

Council has agreed to form an ad hoc committee to collaborate with the Haliburton Highlands Green Burial Society to convert a section of the cemetery at St. Stephen’s Church into a green burial site. 

Green burials do not include the use of embalming chemicals or use cement vaults, rather using biodegradable shrouds, coffin-shaped baskets, or unfinished wooden coffins. 

The site at St. Stephen’s was first proposed in 2020, but at the time, council wished to strengthen its working relationship with the Green Burial Society before agreeing to create any sort of working group. Mayor Carol Moffatt says that has since changed, as the municipality has come a long way in its decision making, and the Green Burial Society has improved its network and information base for the green burial process.

“I think part of the challenge before was that there was a bit of a misalignment in terms of priorities and workloads for staff,” Moffatt said. “The society has come a long way, we know that there’s tremendous interest in green burials, we have committed to the section at St. Stephen’s, so we’re in a different place now.”

Moffatt also said the initiative will be on hold temporarily until Algonquin Highlands can hire a new public works manager, but that she supported the working group’s creation once the vacancy is filled.

The working group will assist in the design of green burial plots, as well as the beautification of the designated area within the cemetery at St. Stephen’s. 

More information on the Haliburton Highlands Green Burial Society can be found at www.haliburtongreenburial.ca/.

Hazardous waste events to continue, more volumetric data needed

Public works environmental co-ordinator Melissa Murray discussed the township’s 2022 hazardous waste collection events, which have been held in conjunction with Minden Hills, Dysart et al, and Highlands East. 

Five dates and locations were chosen for Algonquin Highlands’ 2022 events:

May 21 – Maple Lake Landfill – 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

June 25 – Dorset Transfer Station – 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Aug. 6 – Oxtongue Lake Landfill – 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Sept. 10 – Dorset Transfer Station – 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Oct. 8 – Maple Lake Landfill – 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

In the report, Murray’s staff expressed concern over the increasing costs of holding these events counter to the number of people attending them, especially in Oxtongue Lake, which only saw 25 participants compared to upwards of 100-150 participants observed elsewhere. 

According to Murray, each event costs $2,500, up from $1,200 in 2021. The gulf in cost was a concern to her staff, who requested the discussion from council on how to proceed.

Ultimately, council decided to go ahead with the five dates as planned, while committing to increased promotion of each event, as well as observing the amount of waste being moved at each location to help inform the decision-making process for 2023.

“Spend the extra dollars, keep an eye on it, promote it more, and see if there’s a difference,” Mayor Carol Moffatt said in summary. “If the tonnage [of waste] increases, then that’s a win, and we can justify … that it was worth doing.”

Household hazardous waste includes car batteries, propane cylinders, cleaners, oils, and more. Specialized collection of these materials keeps them out of landfills. 

More information on the hazardous waste collection events can be found at algonquinhighlands.ca/household-hazardous-waste-events.php

Dailloux set to represent municipality on climate advisory group

Algonquin Highlands councillor Jennifer Dailloux was appointed to represent Algonquin Highlands as part of the County of Haliburton’s Community Climate Action Plan Advisory Group. 

“By gosh and golly, you’re appointed,” Mayor Carol Moffatt said as she confirmed Dailloux’s nomination. 

The group will meet four times over the course of 2022, with the goal of helping and advising staff in developing a climate action plan for the County of Haliburton. The advisory group will review best practices related to such action plans, identify strategies for communities to reduce emissions, and help prepare municipalities for the direct impacts of climate change.

Dailloux has been an outspoken and enthusiastic proponent for climate action within Algonquin Highlands, and went unopposed during the nomination process.