The District of Muskoka wants to inform residents of the continuing changes to waste bin locations in the region.
Historically municipally funded dumpsters were provided across the district on road allowances, vacant lands and commercial businesses like marinas. These bins were designed to provide easy waste disposal for residents who did not receive curbside collection.
In 2019 the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) mandated the District must remove all unlicensed waste bin sites by 2026. At the time there were 88 unlicensed bins in the District that had to reach environmental compliance.
Since 2020 District staff has been transitioning or decommissioning these bins. Commissioner of Engineering and Public Works James Steele made an annual update to the Engineering and Public Works Committee on January 17.
Steele stated that presently the district has transitioned 54 of the total 88 waste bins. Steele stated that the District has made solid progress towards their 2026 goal.
“I think we’re making really great progress to move towards our completion date of 2026,” Steele said.
According to Steele transitioning and decommissioning efforts will continue in 2024, with special attention and consultation being paid to Georgian Bay due to its high number of sites.
A key focus of the discussions at committee focused on the importance of communicating these service changes to residents. Georgian Bay Councillor Peter Cooper expressed concerns about how many residents had been notified or consulted about this process.
“I certainly haven’t received one of those letters and there’s literally hundreds of households out on Georgian Bay that travel long, long distances to marinas,” Cooper said.
Steele stated that there had been consultation through public surveys, mail to residents and information posted on the municipal website. Steele stated that it is difficult to establish who is using the waste bins.
Much of the discussion surrounded the difference between a lakeside waste collection and drop-off depot. According to Steele a lakeside waste collection is a garbage truck that visits a specified location at a specific time weekly, while a drop-off depot is a licensed drop-off location for waste which is environmentally compliant.
Cooper reiterated that the wishes and needs of residents must be considered in this process.
“It’s important to understand what the customers want, or what the ratepayers want,” Cooper said.
Councillor Brenda Rhodes acknowledged that this was a difficult process but reiterated how important it was to inform residents of the need to change how things are done.
“This is a major change for people in our communities. I understand that it’s not an easy change isn’t easy. But to say that a drop off site is not working …I think we need to continue to make it very clear that there is an urgency to this, that we cannot keep doing our garbage the way we used to do it,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes also encouraged all members of the committee to inform their constituents of the new ways things will be done and how these efforts will help the environment and the sustainability of local landfills.
Councillor Dan Armour stated that the experience of this transition in Huntsville was challenging but handled well by District staff. He went on to say that many residents are happy with the new system.
“I have to admit that to date, there’s a lot of people reaching out now saying that it’s a great program they’re running now and the opportunity now to be able to use organics. Their waste is really reduced,” Armour said.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!