County reopens transfer sites, on schedule to roll out green bin collection

Transfer sites 'have been very busy at times, with line-ups taking as much as an hour to travel'

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The COVID-19 pandemic won’t prevent the rollout of enhanced solid waste services here.

When Wellington County’s new contract for curbside pickup goes into effect on July 7 residents will “see the start of our long-awaited weekly organics collection,” councillor Gregg Davidson told county council on May 28.

Davidson, who chairs the council’s solid waste services committee, said the process of delivering green bins, liners and information on new schedules and services to the county’s 32,000 households was well underway.

“There have been some questions from our rural properties as to why they have been included in the service. I would bring your mind back to the survey from 2019, which indicated a desire from the majority of these residents to have it,” said Davidson.

In addition, Davidson explained, “There’s a number of items that would not go into the regular backyard composter,” including meat, poultry and fish products, that can be disposed of in the bins.

“The ultimate goal of course is to keep these products out of our landfill to reduce greenhouse gasses, leachate, and to add approximately two years of life to our landfill site,” Davidson stated.

He said residents are being reminded that under the new system, garbage will be picked up every other week for all county residents, while green bins and recycling will be picked up weekly.

“So utilizing the green bin will keep the smelly stuff out of the trash bags,” he noted.

All residents are encouraged to download the county’s new Recycle Coach App and use it as a first source of information about solid waste services.

Davidson also noted the county’s landfill site at Riverstown, and transfer sites throughout the county, closed since pandemic restrictions came into effect in mid-March, were re-opened to the public on May 26 “and have had steady visitors.”

While staggered openings and modified hours had been considered, Davidson said the committee elected to have all the sites reopened at the same time providing “the same business hours they had prior to COVID-19.”

“So far it’s been a very successful reopening,” solid waste services manager Das Soligo told councillors.

“The sites have been very busy at times, with line-ups taking as much as an hour to travel.

“In particular we’ve noted a trend that the first two hours have been the busiest by far, with long lineups, while in the afternoon things slow down to more normal levels.”

He anticipates the sites will continue to be busy, “especially on Saturdays.”

Soligo said residents have been good about physical distancing at the sites and many are wearing masks, which he encouraged.

He said residents and businesses appear to be using the re-opened sites as intended, for bulky items, household hazardous waste and “other materials that can’t be managed at the curbside,” while continuing to use curbside collection for “smaller, household-generated waste.”

Noting May 17 to 23 was National Public Works Week, Davidson said “I’m going to take this opportunity to commend the great work of our solid waste services team during this pandemic.

“Our solid waste services staff has been working extremely hard … to provide the services our community requires.”

Davidson continued, “When residents could not go to the waste facilities, curbside collection efforts were boosted.” He noted staff worked to ensure enough user-pay bags were available in outlets across the county to cover the additional usage.

“When residents felt apprehensive about going to the store, our team implemented home delivery of the bags,” and “when residents felt the pinch of having leaf and yard waste piling up, staff came up with a solution,” said Davidson.

Councillor George Bridge commended staff for their efforts and thanked them for reopening the drop-off sites efficiently.

He noted residents have been expressing frustration with the dump-site closures to local municipal officials in recent weeks.

“It’s taken a lot of the load off the lower tiers as far as the complaints that we we’re getting,” Bridge stated.

Warden Kelly Linton thanked Soligo and county engineer Don Kudo for their leadership through the situation.

“You know sometimes the questions and the comments from the citizens come in a not very professional manner and they’ve maintained that professionalism, that expertise throughout the whole process,” Linton observed.

Councillor Chris White said, “I really appreciate the level of customer service that’s been maintained for the little day-to-day stuff … that hasn’t missed a beat, even through we’ve been having all these massive changes and we’ve got COVID and all these various problems.

“They’ve just done a splendid job of responding to the public.”