MORRISBURG – When Mayor-elect Steven Byvelds and the new South Dundas council march into the municipal building next month, it will mark the beginning of a four-year work week that will present a series of challenging projects that will shape the future of the region. Which project is a priority and what possible solutions can be implemented will be in the hands of a new collective mind?

In part two of our interview series with Byvelds, the direction of South Dundas, his impression of how things stand, and possible first steps were discussed.

South Dundas mayor-elect Steven Byvelds. Schoch Photo

WP: You’re quickly running out of time and space at the municipal landfills. The previous supervisor, Gabriel Lefebvre, presented a comprehensive report to begin to address the problems, but there was no movement by the last edition of council. What is your attack plan for a big issue that will cost big money?
SB: When I was on council we certainly were running out of room at the landfill. I’m not going to sit here and deny that everything was perfect when I left. But something happened between when I left and up until about a year or two ago, where nothing happened on that file. It disappoints me because when I left, the idea of expanding the Williamsburg landfill site was our priority. It seemed reasonable. The report [Lefebvre] presented was pretty factual and had a lot of good ideas, but it was going to cost money. So it takes a person of vision to say, “okay it’s going to cost ‘X’ today and if it saves ‘X’ money down the road, it works.” Maybe what we need to do is resurrect that old report. See if he’s willing, as a consultant, to give us an idea as a new council what his ideas were. If they seem implementable then we need to at least have that idea and look at it. I suspect in the end, if we can’t do anything with our sites to make them last a reasonable amount of time with a reasonable amount of dollars then we’ll look at the Moose Creek option and go from there. We’ll still end up having the landfill closing costs, which are pretty enormous. You’ll never avoid them.

WP: Is there a strategy in your mind on how you would like to see historical buildings handled by the municipality?
SB: Our history is rather brief in the grand scheme of things. If we have historical stuff, then we, as a council and as a municipality, owe it to future generations that we find some way to preserve it. The best route is to work with those like-minded people that have that vision in their mind and want to work on historic building and be more dedicated to it. Allow them in partnership with South Dundas to come up with ideas on how we can work together and go forward on those issues. I think it’s going to be a community effort.

WP: The Dutch Meadows subdivision recently had its first public meeting, and assuming the project does indeed move ahead, what is the next great economic development opportunity in South Dundas?
SB: I do believe Dutch Meadows will get built. If we get the population of people there, they need to have services, they need to have employment, they need to have all the facilities that a community needs to provide them. From an economic development point of view, I always believe that our best advantage is to attract younger people into the service industry, to support who lives there. Would it be good if we got a big industry in South Dundas? Yes. Realistically, it’s going to be a challenge. I would say Morrisburg is in a sweet spot when it comes to where it’s located. As much as it’s got nothing to the south because of the river, Cornwall and Brockville are far enough away, that if you get stuff in Morrisburg people will stay local because of it. You always have to keep in mind that if we don’t have it, where are people going to go?

WP: South Nation Conservation’s forest cover report has gotten quite a bit of interest and one of the suggestions was that lower tier municipality’s engage in a tree give away program similar to the one done at the Counties level. Would that type of program be of interest to the municipality to do their part to help reforestation?
SB: I think it’s a great idea. I think we can still work with SNC because they have all the resources to make all those things happen. So, what do we have to do [as] a lower tier municipality, that is part of their jurisdiction, to make that happen? Especially with the loss of the ash trees that we’re really starting to see more so in South Dundas. North Dundas has seen it rather easily in the last year or two – people care. They want those trees replaced. There are even farmers and other landowners that would be highly interested in saying “okay I’ve got this acre or two of land” if people want to work with South Nation or South Dundas on reforesting that acre or two, that’s a big chunk that covers up a lot of other things. It’s a better avenue than always arguing with landowners about this tree and that tree, and everything else.