Council Meeting report for April 21, 2020:  No surprises

by Theresa Peluso

This well-run meeting has been summarized in the Mississippi Mills news update.

The main items of interest to me were the proposed new penalties for violations of the Open Air Burning By-law and the new recycling contract we’ll be getting, starting this summer.

At this meeting it was clarified, in connection with the Open Air Burning By-law, that there is no burning allowed whatsoever for the duration of the pandemic, including in an open barrel.  This is to minimize the need for first responders to put themselves at risk.  This ban is Province- and County-wide.

Although this message has been made very clear, it seems some residents are still disregarding it. As a result, according to Fire Chief Chad Brown, it was proposed that the penalties for violation be altered, so that in addition to a $300 fine for illegal burning, the violators will also be required to cover the actual costs incurred by the Fire Department (e.g., for the vehicles, equipment, human resources and supplies required to deal with that particular violation.  That certainly sounds fair to me!

Councillor John Dalgity’s proposed modification to the Ottawa Street Intersection Study, which consisted of installing additional signage, was passed.

The item on the recommended change by Roads and Public Works to Mississippi Mills’ recycling collection program took up the bulk of the meeting time.

Our municipal recycling program is being modified because of the Province’s plan, starting in 2023, to reduce the recycling burden on municipalities and encourage the re-use of products, by shifting the cost of our Blue Box programs completely onto the companies producing recyclable waste, over the next five years.

I’m sure we are all in agreement that these producers need to do their part to reduce waste.  In fact, previous governments have tried this, only to be out-maneuvered by said companies.  Let’s hope this new strategy works!

Be that as it may, one of the outcomes is that, starting June 1 of this year, our new recycling collection program will be changed from the current program.  Residents will now need to separate their recyclables into two categories – paper, and other recyclables (metal, glass, plastic) – and put each category into separate boxes.

There will continue to be weekly collections, but they will alternate between the paper collection one week and the collection of metal, glass and plastic the following week.

The new company chosen, Emterra, will provide everyone with a yellow box in addition to the black box we already have, to help residents separate their recyclables. In addition, there will be a 12-week education process to help everyone understand this new system, and during this time the yellow boxes will be delivered, one district at a time, to all households as well.

One major reason for this dual-streaming is to reduce the amount of contamination of the end product, which will increase the market value of these recyclables, thereby helping these materials to be more fully recycled.

There was a lot of concern about the roll-out of this program, and making sure residents understand this new system.  Also, there were questions as to how residents in multi-unit buildings would participate in this new program.

Treasurer Rhonda Whitmarsh provided an Interim Report on the state of our municipality’s finances, which was well received.  It’s clear that everything possible is being done to minimize non-critical expenses for the duration of the pandemic.

The discussions were generally germane to the topic at hand, and very business-like and respectful.  Keep up the good work, Council!