Committee proposes spring closure of Hillsburgh transfer station

The county’s solid waste services committee has proposed closing the Hillsburgh transfer station.

The recommendation, which came at its meeting on Nov. 10, stated, “That rural collection of bagged household garbage and of blue box material be provided in the Town of Erin, effective May 1, 2010; and that the Hillsburgh transfer site be closed to the public at the close of business on May 1, 2010; and that the patrons be redirected to the Belwood transfer site for the disposal of bulky items, house­hold hazardous waste, brush, tires, scrap metal, etc. and the use of a reuse centre.

Chief Administrative Officer Scott Wilson said on Tuesday the plan is to “Close it, clean it up and cap it.” He said traffic on the site will simply squeeze the leachate and eventually force it out.

County engineer Gord Ough agreed “the environ­mental health requires closure of the site.” He added there will be quite a bit of savings by moving the rural pick-up for Erin.

The committee recommen­ded surplus county prop­erty ad­jacent to the Hillsburgh transfer site be offered for sale in accordance with county poli­cies and that Ough’s report on the sale of surplus property be received for information.

The recommendation will be discussed at a county council meeting on Monday.

Since 2001, Ough said in his report, the county’s envi­ronmental consultant, SNC Lava­lin, has been recom­men­ding activity cease at the facility and the site be properly graded and capped to minimize the risk of incurring much high­er closure costs than neces­sary and to limit the negative environ­mental legacy of the site.

Ough noted, “The county has not acted on this recom­men­dation to date due to a num­ber of reasons that seemed to make sense at the time, but it appears that the risk of con­ti­nued inaction as it relates to the above, is becoming critical.”

He said the concentrations of chlor­ide, which is “the only sur­rogate parameter” used to assess a waste site regarding compliance, have increased to levels that could moti­vate the MOE to request extremely expensive fixes to manage the contami­nants.

The issue was discussed at the November committee meeting in closed session, re­garding the sale of surplus prop­erty adjacent to the site.

Ough stated in the report, “The question started out to be what if we decide to close the existing Hillsburgh site and then want to build a new transfer station on the lands in question.

“After some discus­sion the question changed to, if we close the existing site would we replace it with another site, or with other arrangements … or provide rural collection for bagged waste and blue box material and redirect patrons to another site for the disposal of bulky waste, household hazard­ous waste, reuse facilities, brush, tires, scrap metal dis­posal etc.”

Ough said the idea of open­ing a new site on what has been declared surplus lands has of­ten been characterized as being the obvious solution, that no one would object to a new faci­lity in the location because there is already one there, that the users like the location.”

He said the options would appear to be as follows:

– redirect those using the site to be alternate site (in this case to the Belwood transfer site) for the disposal of bagged garbage as well as blue box recyclables, bulky wastes, house­­hold hazardous waste, brush, tires, scrap metal, etc. and the use of a reuse centre;

– provide bi-weekly rural collection for the residents of the Town of Erin similar to the arrangement currently in place in the Township of Guelph-Eramosa, for the disposal of bagged garbage and blue box materials, and redirect them to the Belwood site for the dis­posal of the other items;

– replace it with another trans­fer station.

The estimated operating cost for the first choice is $60,000 (a $340,000 savings from the $400,000 annual op­erating costs for the third option). That would allow the surplus lands and house to be sold with all of the proceeds going to offset the original purchase price.

The estimated operating cost for the second option is $170 (a $230,000 savings from the $400,000 annual operating costs. That option would also allow the surplus lands and house to be sold and all of the proceeds going to offset the original purchase price.

The costs associated with the third option are an esti­mated $2-million for studies, design and construc­tion and $400,000 annually for operat­ing costs.

Ough said, “Given that it is expected that the proceeds from the sale of the entire sur­plus property would be expec­ted to well exceed the cost of six to ten users elsewhere, the least expensive replacement facility may well be some­where other than on the surplus lands.”

A formal appraisal of the surplus property and house has not been carried out and its value has little or no effect on the options above.

He offered an approach to get to an order of magnitude for the value of the surplus prop­erty. “The 2006 appraisal estab­lished a $1.2-million value for the 117 acres and the buildings. Let’s assume that $250,000 was the value of the buildings on the site. The average cost per acre would then have been $8,120. There are 47 acres and the buildings that can be sold.

“The value of the buildings and the property therefore, is $250,000 plus 47 times $8,120” or $631,640.

County councillor Lou Maieron sent an email to local News media and councillors. In it he stated, “I could agree with the recommendation particu­larly if  a recycle centre could be built to service both com­munities Erin and Guelph Eramosa.

“I have been in preliminary discussions with EWAG (East Wellington Community Ser­vices) to operate such a recycle centre for the better­ment of both communities.  An example of such operates in Caledon and I understand it  is financial­ly successful.”

He added, “Furthermore money raised and items reused rather than land filled helps the all the community, particularly those in most need. If there is an interest to go see this opera­tion, I am sure it could be arranged.  This Recycle Center operates in Bolton in the in­dustrial section of town.

Maieron indicated he would like an amendment to the motion for a recycle centre.

As for a shift to other communities, he wrote, “On a quick calculation, Erin to Pus­linch is 27 miles, to Bel­wood 23 miles.  Rockwood to Bel­wood is 20 miles, to Pus­linch 15 miles. Rough approxi­mates.”

He added, “Still quite a distance to drive. There isn’t much else to do in Belwood ex­cept if you want to go fishing or boating; there is not much to combine on that trip.”

Council will debate the issue on Monday.