Should we stay or should we go?
That’s the question area municipalities are pondering once again now that the Northwest Ontario Recycle Association is asking them who wants to stay on board in the search for another operator.
Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said that while the town has said it would stand by NORA, the future of recycling service for Fort Frances may or may not be under its umbrella.
“It’s a big decision to make. There’s many factors to be discussed, and we’ll have to talk about it to determine the best course of action,” he noted.
“But what I can say is, when all is said and done, the Blue Box program and the recycling pick-up will continue in Fort Frances,” the mayor stressed.
While Kenora has notified NORA it will pull out if a solution isn’t found by the end of June when its contract is up, Mayor Dave Canfield said the town isn’t completely shutting NORA out yet.
“We’ve done a lot of preliminary stuff with Canadian Waste [a company which has shown interest in possibly doing business with NORA],” he noted. “Because they’re coming out of Winnipeg, they might be an option for us.
“But this whole issue is a tough one. Trying to come up with the best solution for everyone might not work,” Mayor Canfield admitted. “Maybe we’ll see NORA split up, and different municipalities split up into groups with different recycling services.”
“We have to work together,” noted Mayor Sidney Wintle of Dryden. “My concern is if we don’t have the small guys in, it’s only going to hurt them in the long run.
“They might complain they can’t handle the $17 per capita fee. But if you happen to have a ‘bag and tag’ system or end up going to one, and you’re putting those materials that normally go in the Blue Box in a bag instead, $17 per capita ends up being a pretty good bargain,” he argued.
Meanwhile, Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown, who also is chair of NORA’s board of directors, said even though his town previously had said it may pull out of NORA come the end of June, they will co-operate in finding a solution.
“We want to have a recycling program. We’re not required to have one, but we want one,” he stressed. “And for right now, we’re sticking with NORA to find an answer, which we’ll go with as long as the cost isn’t too high.”
Mayor John W. McDonald of Sioux Lookout, the other district municipality that must maintain a recycling program by law based on its population size, could not be reached for comment before press time.
The decision to go back to the municipalities came Friday during a NORA board meeting in Dryden, where it learned no companies had responded to its request for proposals by the Feb. 26 deadline.
But one item of correspondence with Canadian Waste Services Inc., which presented itself as a possible answer to NORA’s problems, read as follows:
“The issue faced by NORA to provide an effective, reliable, and affordable recycling collection and processing service to its member communities are complex, and require a strategy that meets the various needs of each community.
“The solutions must be developed in consultation with the various communities in order to best define the infrastructure commitments that will lead to the lowest cost of freight and processing of the recyclable materials.
“As the leader in municipal recycling collection and processing in the waste management industry, Canadian Waste Services remains interested in working with NORA to develop those solutions that are appropriate for each of it member communities.”
“We need to get those parameters set up. We have to know 100 percent who’s in and who’s out,” said Pat Hickerson, manager of Operations and Facilities for Fort Frances, who sat in for NORA rep Deane Cunningham at Friday’s meeting.
“Once we figure that out, we’ll strike up a committee and pin things down. Hopefully we’ll make some headway. Something has to be sorted out by June one way or another,” he remarked.
Area municipalities that have served notice of their intent to drop out of NORA this summer include Rainy River, Morley, La Vallee, Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls, Red Lake, Sioux Lookout, Ear Falls, Kenora, Atikokan, and most recently, Chapple.
NORA is requesting all municipalities contacted respond by the end of the month.