Harriston RV waste station to be decommissioned

MINTO – The recreational vehicle (RV) waste disposal site at the Harriston fairgrounds will be decommissioned, effective June 1.

Town council agreed to a staff recommendation to decommission the facility at its April 2 meeting.

A staff report indicates the RV waste disposal site was placed in the Harriston Fairgrounds in the 1980s to assist with various large events that took place in the fairgrounds. 

“At the time, there were no regulations or compliance issues regarding a site of this nature,” the report notes.

On March 5, a master plan for the fairgrounds surrounding the Harriston-Minto Community Complex was approved in-principle by town council.

The plan includes a multi-sport pad, junior soccer pitch, walking trails, a new pavilion, re-configured parking lot and a walking bridge connecting the arena grounds to the Kinsmen Swimming Pool and playground area.

“The current concept for the future Harriston fairgrounds does not include the RV waste disposal site as part of the proposed design,” the staff report states.

Although currently operational, underground infrastructure at the RV sewage dumping station is “in disrepair.”

The report indicates there are frequent emergency calls to repair backed up sewage, often during events such as baseball tournaments and camping events. In addition, the station is “a considerable source of infiltration” to the sanitary sewage system in Harriston. 

“The RV dumping station being located in the flood zone also creates significant operational challenges for Minto staff during flooding events,” the report notes.

Regulation changes

Recent changes in Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP) regulations identified that the RV dumping station is not an approved dumping location and does not meet the requirements for one. 

The MECP has officially notified the town that the Harriston lagoon is not designed, rated or approved to accept such septage.

Significant upgrades and approvals would be required at both the Harriston lagoon and the dumping location in order to continue offering this service to residents, the report explains.

The report points out most campgrounds are equipped with dumping facilities and a local option exists at McPhail’s of Harriston for anyone doing local camping. 

Current keyholders for the fairgrounds station will be issued a refund for their key deposit, the report states.

“I know that this has been a controversial issue for a number of years and I know for a fact that we will take some heat over this,” said Mayor Dave Turton, adding the closure can’t be avoided due to changing ministry regulations.

“We don’t make the rules,” he pointed out.

Councillor Judy Dirksen said, “It’s too bad that we can’t provide the service anymore but it’s pretty clear that … it’s out of our hands and the responsible thing for us to do is to close it obviously.” 

Turton added, “June 1 isn’t far away, we likely should put up a sign down there to say that this dump station will be closed June 1.”