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Rural Port Hope residents may not embrace curbside waste pick-up

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today


While it would seem logical that any county resident would embrace the convenience of curbside residential-waste and recyclable collection, that does not seem to be the case in rural Port Hope.

Deputy Mayor Greg Burns presented a notice of motion at this week’s committee-of-the-whole meeting to provide that service to the 2,271 residences in Ward 2, who currently are the only Northumberland residents not served by curbside collection. But the debate it inspired was not exactly supportive.

The motion was based on a recommendation by the Centre of Excellence for Recycling working group, and it mentioned that the service would cost these citizens nothing extra. It would save on greenhouse gases by eliminating individual trips to the Hope Transfer Station, and would free up that property for repurposing.

The motion calls for staff to prepare a report on how waste management is conducted in Ward 2, with an analysis and verification of cost, impact, reduction in carbon emissions, and improved recycling rates and revenue generation.

Burns also added a call for a community-engagement process with local residents to be implemented to ensure their participation in the final decision-making process.

Councillor Robert Polutnik put forward his own motion — to refer the deputy mayor’s motion back to the working group to ascertain if this is something rural residents even want.

Councillor Jeff Lees recalled the same question had come up four or five years ago, and it was quite plain at that time that it was not wanted. He’s not sure opinion has changed, he added.

“They like the way it is — they think it’s a better situation,” Lees stated.

“There were about 300 people at that meeting who quite loudly said they don’t want it.”

Lees suspects the idea of changing the status quo comes from urban people who have moved to the rural areas of Port Hope and still want home pick-up. But the whole issue is the rural identity, he said.

Councillor Les Andrews also questioned the part of the motion that said it would not result in increased taxes. That’s because waste is a county function, he pointed out. But increasing their pick-up routes must inevitably increase county costs, he said, and this will be reflected in county taxes.

Councillor Louise Ferrie-Blecher wondered if there had been a rural resident on the committee behind the motion, and stated that this was absolutely necessary.

She said a rural resident can provide insight an urban resident might not have — such as the challenge of getting garbage to the end of a kilometre-long driveway on a blizzardy morning.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going to the dump with your garbage when you’re on the road to somewhere else — I don’t think it’s a huge environmental impact,” Ferrie-Blecher said.

As for greenhouse gases from cars idling at the transfer station, she added, it’s no worse than what one sees at the drive-through of one’s favourite coffee shop.

Ferrie-Blecher said she supports referring the motion back to the working committee, to give them the opportunity to get more of the rural perspective on the issue.

Frankly, Councillor Terry Hickey wondered, why refer it back if it’s not a desired option.

Mayor Bob Sanderson said it would give them a chance to take into account the points raised.

“It will go back to the working group with more input than they had — but it appears we are driving that agenda and not the residents,” the mayor said.

“It does seem like we are doing something we are not even being asked to do.”

The vote to refer the motion back to the committee passed with only Burns and Andrews opposed.