There was a lot of trash talk when Hawkesbury Council met on September 12 and council agreed a review of the municipal waste management by-law needs to be done.

A report from Project Manager Jennifer Ashfield explains how municipal waste collection policy should meet the expectations of the Strategy for a Waste Free Ontario, including to provide for the diversion of food waste and organic material.

Currently, Hawkesbury is the only municipality in Prescott and Russell counties which does not place limits on garbage disposal. The town’s existing waste collection contract with Gilles R. Mayer Sanitation ends on December 31, 2022, and Ashfield recommended that the new collection contract reflect the requirements of the provincial strategy.

Councillor Antonios Tsourounakis asked about the advantages of using bins to collect residential trash instead of bags.

Ashfield said it is easier for collection workers and for the monitoring of limits on the amount of waste that may be collected. Ashfield also commented on how the bins look good along the streets on garbage day.

“The curb appeal is very good,” she said.

Ashfield said with bins, it is easier for collectors to use automatic collection – where the bins are picked up mechanically and contents dumped into the truck – so there is less work involved. Ashfield said limits also give residents flexibility on how often they put out their garbage, describing it as a “pay as you throw” arrangement.

As a comparison, Ashfield provided information from the Montréal West Island suburb of Beaconsfield, where automatic, fee-based collection has been adopted with weekly collection of food waste and support for home composting. Beaconsfield has gone from producing the second largest amount of waste per capita among municipalities on Montréal Island to being the municipality which produces the least amount of waste per capita.

Councillor Robert Lefebvre commented how changes to waste collection in Hawkesbury could also be affected by upcoming changes to the recycling program across Ontario. The province is changing from the current municipal blue box system to a system, where producers of packaging are responsible for the cost and management of recycling. Lefebvre said good communication with residents about any changes to waste collection is important.

“Our existing law is obsolete,” remarked Councillor Lawrence Bogue. He said the changes are complex but necessary, and also called for good communication with residents.

Ashfield said a multi-year strategy is proposed, along with communication – particularly with condo and apartment owners.

“Essentially, are you prepared to submit a communication strategy for the population?” asked Mayor Paula Assaly. She also wants to be sure residents are well-informed of any changes to the waste collection program.

Ashfield said it is a technical process, with a series of steps, and a communication strategy can be developed with municipal departments. The changes and plan will be prepared in time for adoption at the next regular council meeting.

Assaly asked if there is an idea of how much it will cost for bins. Ashfield said quotes will be obtained.

“For the bins, that’s quite a cost for the moment,” said Interim Chief Administrative Officer Samuel Cardarelli.

“It’s a small price to pay for long-term gains,” he added.

The recommendation to proceed with the review Hawkesbury’s waste management by-law was moved by Bogue, seconded by Lefebvre, and adopted by council.