By Deb Crossen

During the municipal election last year, candidates in Trent Lakes talked about garbage. Specifically, how some seasonal residents felt the quarterly restriction on garbage disposal at the transfer station was unfair to them. The promise made by several candidates was to return to the 52-bag a year policy, removing the limit on a quarterly basis. Essentially, this means that seasonal residents would be able to use their 52 bags during their two- to three-month stay in the area. While the rest of us, those who live here year-round, would still have to ration our garbage disposal to 1 bag per week. We all pay the same amount in taxes, but it seems the seasonal residents spoke louder.

            Peterborough County is responsible for waste management in the municipality and representatives made a presentation to Trent Lakes Council a few months ago. They outlined the need to retain the current quarterly system, in order to control how much waste gets to their facility.

            Despite this, on June 18, there will be a motion from Councillor Armstrong at the Trent Lakes Council meeting directing staff to “Suspend the quarterly restriction for the current waste card, for a one year trial.” As well, they will “assess the impact on landfill tonnage for this cycle and, if the increase does not exceed 15 percent on an annual basis, then continue with no quarterly restriction for the 2020 cycle.”

            The motion also goes on to direct staff to draft a letter to Peterborough County outlining this new policy with a rationale that “48 bags per year is still 54 percent less than other municipalities with 104 bag allowances” and “even if bag waste doubled over the summer months, it would not exceed the average of 2 bags per week.”

            We have never had 104 bag allowances in the 19 years I have lived in the municipality, it used to be 52 bags per year and even then, I ended up paying $1 per bag at the end of the year for overages. As well, quite frankly, if Council believes that the seasonal residents will only have 2 bags per week, they haven’t been to the transfer stations on a weekend to see the back end of SUVs packed with garbage from the city going into our facility.

            Trent Lakes residents, both seasonal and full-time, have reduced landfill tonnage by 39 percent since 2016, the lowest kg per capita waste (96.57 in 2018) and the highest diversion rate in the County. I think this is all due to the quarterly restriction system in place, as well as the diligent efforts our transfer station attendants to enforce the clear bag and recycling rules.

            If this meeting of Council goes as others have, this motion will pass. Mayor Clarkson will be able to make good on her promise to some seasonal residents she met while campaigning at the transfer stations throughout last year’s election. If nothing else, I hope this new policy will eliminate the many garbage bags we see at the side of the road or overflowing in public bins, left by those who can’t be bothered going to the transfer station on their way out of town. We shall see.