Fenelon Falls landfill to close for the winter

Incinerator not on the agenda at this time

By Kirk Winter

The Lindsay Ops landfill is the municipality’s main regional hub for disposal. File photo.

In a move made to save money and extend the life of the Fenelon Falls landfill site, the city announced via press release that the site will be closing Jan 1 and will remain closed until May 1.

However, rumours of an incinerator coming into play for the city are simply not true.

David Kerr, manager of environmental services for Kawartha Lakes, calls the temporary closure a “good news story” as it will improve efficiencies at the remaining landfills and lengthen the life of the Fenelon Falls landfill.

City rationale for the decision to close the Fenelon Falls landfill site this winter is threefold.

First, the remaining site life at the Fenelon Landfill will double. The landfill is currently estimated to be at capacity within the next four year, maximum. By extending the site’s life to up to eight years through this new winter closure, it delays the site from closing year round and prolongs continued service in the busier summer season. This site life extension will also give Kawartha Lakes an opportunity to pursue additional options to extend the site life even further.

Secondly, the waste in the Somerville landfill is currently compacted by a loader so through rotating the Fenelon landfill compactor to Somerville in the winter, there will be improved compaction of waste at Somerville. As a result, the city will also see a significant increase in remaining site life at Somerville.

Lastly, the Lindsay Ops landfill is the municipality’s main regional hub for disposal, offering more services to reduce, recycle and divert waste than the other sites. Increasing the hours open to the public on Wednesdays in the winter will allow better access and opportunity to programs being offered at this site.

“We were given a direction from council in 2021 and staff was asked to review costs and seek out efficiencies wherever possible,” Kerr said. “We looked at logistics, costs and how the landfills are staffed and this made the most sense.”

When asked why this decision has caught so many Fenelon Falls residents by surprise, Kerr did confirm that this decision wasn’t part of a process where residents were given the opportunity to weigh in either in person or virtually.

“This was strictly a decision mandated by council,” Kerr said. “We will be doing a lot of advertising coming up on social media, signs at the landfills and road signs to inform the public.”

Kerr said he understands that some landfill site users could be upset by the lack of consultation, but wanted to remind residents that none of these decisions impact curbside pick-up and recycling.

He said that the Fenelon Falls landfill, currently open Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, sees on average 150 vehicles a day. Those users are now expected to use the Somerville landfill near Burnt River, the Eldon landfill near Kirkfield, the Laxton landfill near Norland or the Lindsay landfill just off Hwy 36. Hours have been extended at both Lindsay and Somerville to accommodate the re-routed Fenelon Falls traffic.

Most of the increased traffic is expected to be seen at the Somerville landfill site, about a 20-minute drive each way for Fenelon Falls residents.

When asked about community concerns of more roadside dumping by those not prepared to make the lengthier drive to deposit their waste Kerr said they “will be checking the roadsides and gates at landfills for garbage illegally dumped.”

Kerr wants to remind residents that dumping roadside garbage is not only a bylaw offence but a provincial offence. If individuals see it occurring they are asked to contact the authorities and share what they saw.

While rumours about incinerating garbage have surfaced, Kerr said that right now the city is looking at waste solutions 50 years out.

“There is no current proposal for an incinerator for Somerville.”

Councillor Doug Elmslie said any discussion of an incinerator and where it might be located is based on what we do with garbage in the future.

“Clearly Kawartha Lakes does not have the resources to embark on such a project on our own. Conservative estimates (for an incinerator) exceed a billion dollars. The studies and permits required would take decades to obtain.”

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