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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex, Kingsville, LaSalle, Lakeshore vote to keep waste collection in control of municipalities

- threshold not met to upload waste collection to County, but that could change -


by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

Kingsville, LaSalle, and Lakeshore Councils recently joined Essex in opposing uploading waste collection and delivery to the County-level, which would have removed that responsibility from the seven local municipalities to the County of Essex to form a regional service.

Tecumseh, Amherstburg, and Leamington were in favour.

Essex Council unanimously turned down the option on September 18.

At its August 16 meeting, a majority of County of Essex Council passed this by-law to start the process, but it could not take effect until four of the seven local municipalities – representing at least 50 percent of electors in the County – bought into the potential program.

The idea to form a regional collection was to take advantage of economies of scale/cost by potentially attracting more bidders with a higher volume, to create route efficiencies, and extend the life of the landfill with a decrease in the amount of tonnage by diverting organics.

Talks about the possibility began in June of 2022, when the previous Term of County Council directed Administration to work with the Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA) on creating a regional waste management program.

This took place after County Council voted to inform EWSWA that all County municipalities would participate in a regional solution for the collection and processing of organic waste material from urban settlement areas at a minimum in March 2022, a month after the City of Windsor Council voted in favour of participating in an organics program on a regional-basis, if possible.

As a result of that, in 2025, Essex and area municipalities will receive weekly organics pick-up through EWSWA.

Amherstburg Council was in favour of a regional waste collection by a slim margin of 4-3.

Mayor Michael Prue noted those on his Council opposed were not convinced doing so would hold costs of the service or lower it, and were also worried about giving up municipal control.

Giving up municipal control was something he worried about as well, as he went through amalgamation in Toronto.

Those in favour were looking at the potential of cost savings, noting the future organic collection will be a regional service, anyway. He noted most municipalities were noticing rises in this service, and merging the service may have created a position of strength in attracting better tenders with higher volumes.

The Town of Essex’s current garbage collection contract, for instance, is set to expire in May of 2024. The Town received one submission when this contract was issued, from GFL Environmental, which was awarded in February of 2022.

The contract was significantly higher than the previous term. The 2015 total annual estimated cost of the contract was around $655,000, while it was $954,000 in 2022; meaning a 44 percent increase over this five-year term.

Prue said Amherstburg’s contract is up in 2027.

Lakeshore voted 5-3 opposed to uploading waste collection to the County, Deputy Mayor Kirk Walstedt noted.

While at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference at the end of August, he said he spoke to representatives of regions that he said uplifted their waste collection and ended up realizing no cost savings. Without a guarantee that there would be savings, he said there was reluctance around Lakeshore’s decision-making table to relinquish municipal control over the service.

At that meeting, he noted greenhouse waste and how that goes to the landfill was also discussed and how that should be diverted.

Walstedt noted there is nothing stopping municipalities from joining together on their own to try to obtain a better waste collection tender.

LaSalle was the last of the seven regional municipalities to vote on the matter. Councillors voiced their concerns with costing, possible changes in the service, that there were a lot of maybes, and losing municipal control.

Its Council unanimously did not support uplifting waste collection to the County.

Essex County CAO Sandra Zwiers attended LaSalle’s meeting in-person, and noted that the By-Law passed at the County-level still exists, until the decision at the municipal-level changes and a majority of local municipalities become in favour.

If at any point, the municipalities that voted against uplifting waste collection to the County revisit and reverse their decision, the County By-Law then would go into effect, she explained.

It may only take one municipality to change its vote to do so, depending if that would pass the 50 percent of electors in the county threshold.

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