MORRISBURG – There may be some light at the end of the tunnel for the Williamsburg and Matilda landfills.

Landfill supervisor Gabriel Lefebvre was in attendance at Tues., Feb. 6’s South Dundas council meeting to present a proposal intended to save the municipality money on overtime costs.

The strategy, if accepted, would have seen the elimination of free dump days for 2018 and the reduction of Saturday operating hours to once a month. The plan was presented for financial and environmental reasons with the argument being that free dump days punish those that do recycle properly and enables others with bad behavior by giving them the opportunity to hold and dispose of the waste without any repercussions to their actions at the same time utilizing valuable landfill space without compensation. It also contended that opening the landfills once per month on Saturday instead of weekly would reduce the overtime by approximately $20,000 per year. The landfill would be busier on the Saturday, as it would be open only once within the month, justifying the overtime being paid.

Instead, Councillor Marc St. Pierre used the opportunity to present Lefebvre with a list of notes to begin the lengthy process of dealing with the looming landfill situation.

“I think part of the problem, at least for me, is we continuously get little bits and pieces and it’s not Gabriel’s fault. I think a little bit is our fault because we haven’t really given him true clear direction of what we need,” said St. Pierre.

Council has consistently deferred action on the landfill assuming a status quo approach. Even though Lefebvre presented an aggressive plan with options and financial numbers, St. Pierre was concerned there were still details missing.

“I just don’t like the fact that during our budget deliberations we kind of came up with two options. It’s either option A or option B, and we never really had any of the details of the two options… I think we need a copy of your report, your full report,” said St. Pierre.

Mayor Evonne Delegarde also thought more information was needed.

“Because during the budget deliberations we did have a couple of different options, but they only dealt with one year. We wanted to see more future,” she said.

CAO Shannon Geraghty pointed out that these are the types of marching orders administrative staff has been lacking from council in order to move major projects forward.

“The whole premise around this report is at budget time we got no direction from council. Council said status quo,” he said.

Councillor Archie Mellan contended that the numbers presented were sufficient for him and that the problem must be addressed.

“We had numbers and Gabriel provided us with what it was going to cost us for closing a landfill and some of the numbers we had maybe weren’t as comprehensive as councillor St. Pierre indicted he’d like to see. I can put this off, but I totally agree by the time the next run of council is over, we’re going to have some major issues… We’ve got to get started,” he said.

After some healthy debate, the whispers of a plan began to take shape.

“It needs to come out in a public forum so we can come up with a plan… We need to address this sooner than later, but I just believe we need to address it in a comprehensive report… if we have to have a committee of the whole meeting at the end of this month… that’s where we should do it. Just piecemealing band-aid solutions, we shouldn’t do it,” said St. Pierre.   

Added Lefebvre: “We’ll give you the full, full report. It will be like a bombshell.”

With that, however, he had his marching orders. It is now up to Lefebvre to present a comprehensive and digestible report that paints the complete picture of South Dundas’ landfill situation.

What council decides to do with that information will determine what kind of state they will leave the municipality in for future generations.

St. Pierre, for one, seems ready to face to the truth.

“We run landfills. It is what it is. We just gotta figure out what’s the best way to move forward,” he said.