GRAVENHURST - Proposals to reduce rural garbage pickup during peak tourism months in Gravenhurst is likely headed to the trash.
Although there will be debate later in March with the District of Muskoka solid waste committee, Gravenhurst and district councillor Bob Colhoun said the proposal isn’t getting a lot of favour.
“The folks and I on the committee tend to agree that if it isn’t broken, we shouldn’t be trying to fix it,” said Coun. Colhoun, who also sits on the district waste committee. “It looks like at this point, it’s all going to work out well.”
The proposals, initially discussed by committee Feb. 19, were to reduce summer garbage pickups in the rural areas to once every two weeks during July and August or, secondly, for four months, June through September. Also being discussed is reducing the limit of garbage bags to two for those customers, with the possibility of introducing tags for additional bags.
Coun. Colhoun said, following the district committee meeting, that it doesn’t seem likely the proposal to reduce the number of pickups will move forward and the idea of bag tags doesn’t seem to be popular either.
“We seem to be in agreement that no changes would be best for now,” he said.
Coun. Colhoun and his fellow councillors in Gravenhurst hotly opposed the concept during their meeting earlier in February, saying should the ideas reach beyond the waste committee to the district council, they would not support the proposed changes. Colhoun was concerned first and foremost about reducing the level of service to the many rural cottage and tourism regions during the peak season. Currently, rural areas and those under lake association boundaries have their garbage picked up weekly during those peak tourism months, between May and October.
“These folks (cottagers, seasonal and lake association residents) probably pay 80 per cent of the freight as far as the town’s tax base is concerned and they get basically two things: garbage (pickup) and the roads,” Colhoun said.
He added that history has shown alterations to local garbage service can lead to ditch dumping, which in turn increases costs for both the municipality and the district to have staff patrolling for stray garbage.
“I think what you’re going to find is that a lot of the people are just going to leave their garbage out on the roads or in the ditches,” Colhoun said, adding, for example, when tire dumping fees were introduced some years back at local landfills, “We found a whole pile of these tires laying in the ditches and our staff and district staff had to go pick them up.”
Council also expressed concern of rural garbage piling up during those peak summer months for two weeks at a time while animals are out of hibernation and scouring for food sources.