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Required upgrades means hikes in water and sewer rates, landfill costs

by Isabel Mosseler

Two more departments came up for budgetary review at the March 12 council meeting: Environmental Services and Water & Sewer. Environmental services, which handles solid waste disposal in West Nipissing, has proposed a 4% increase in their budget, primarily affecting those residences which receive full services (Sturgeon Falls, Cache Bay and Springer), while Water & Sewer is looking at a 2.4% increase. CAO Jay Barbeau said there wasn’t much room for flexibility in these figures, as the increases were related to legally required capital expenditures. 

Environmental Services

Barbeau told council that the amount of materials moved by Environmental Services in the course of a year is impressive, including 700 tons of paper products, 3000 tires, 40 tons of electronic waste and a diversion program that generated $337K in income between 2012 and 2016. “The bottom line is slightly under a 4% increase to their budget – not an unreasonable percentage this year. That amounts to a $10 per year increase to the people who have all the services.”

The main contractor, West Nipissing Environmental Services, asked for an increase of $77K for facility upgrades. Barbeau said those upgrades are necessary as the facilities in question “are bordering on infractions in terms of safety,” and the funds would be directed towards machines, presses, buildings, and general facilities. WN Environmental looks after collection in Sturgeon Falls, Springer, Cache Bay and the recycling programs in Verner and Field. Collection in Verner and North Monetville is handled by private contractors.

Jason Sullivan, manager of Environmental Services, told council facility upgrades were required at Verner and Lavigne landfills. “We are planning to look at all facilities and they need some TLC to be brought to a certain standard,” in order to meet provincial norms. When asked by Coun. Denis Sénécal what was done in Lavigne in response to health and safety concerns at the landfill, Sullivan said the building and the maintenance were upgraded. Barbeau added that the town’s health and safety officials looked at the code and found that port-a-potties would be sufficient at the landfill sites and that running water was not required.

Coun. Sénécal challenged, “What code do you follow?” Barbeau responded “When I get a request from public or council I pass it to our experts in the field, what the concerns are, and they address the concerns. My role is to ensure the managers are compliant with legislation and they assure they are. [Alain] Bazinet is also chair of Health and Safety so he knows the codes… It wasn’t a building code issue – I clearly indicated to him [it was about] the health and safety of our workers.” Sénécal argued that the building code did apply, to which Barbeau responded, “We follow all legislation.”

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