One less landfill
That was the decision made by Algonquin Highlands councillors last week, and it was the right one.
It’s difficult to argue that Algonquin Highlands residents are underserved when it comes to waste disposal options. At the township’s northern end is a landfill at Oxtongue Lake, near its middle a transfer station at Dorset, and in its southern portion three landfills at Pine Springs (Kushog Lake), Hawk Lake and Maple Lake, respectively. None of these three locations is that far from the others, and most residents of the Hawk and Halls lakes area will end up taking their trash to the Maple Lake location instead.
While it may be slightly less convenient, it’s just not really a big deal. The Hawk Lake landfill is about a three-minute drive from my family’s Halls Lake cottage. The Maple Lake site is about . . . well, let’s say a 10- to 15-minute drive away, depending on which member of the family is driving. It’s not that far, and as the township’s operations manager pointed out last week, is on the way to Haliburton Village, where a number of area residents go to do their shopping.
What’s more, most of us have to go to the Maple Lake landfill already, or at least sometimes. The Hawk Lake landfill accepts just regular household garbage and recycling. So, if you’re a resident of the area who’s playing by the rules, chances are you already go to Maple Lake sometimes to dispose of things like metal or brush.
The decision to forgo a transfer station is financially prudent as the design and implementation of a transfer station would obviously come with a price tag, as would the ongoing transportation of waste from the transfer station to the landfill. When weighing what’s truly in the best interest of residents, a small sacrifice in terms of convenience for some seems worth it for the township not to incur the costs associated with a transfer station.
Waste management is one of the biggest challenges for the county’s municipalities. It took Algonquin Highlands township nearly a decade to get provincial approval for an expansion of the Maple Lake landfill, an expansion that has given that site a life expectancy of nearly another century. As residents, we can do our part to prolong the life span of that facility by diverting as much waste as possible through responsible sorting and recycling, and by purchasing sustainable and reusable products.