No solution yet to recycling woes

It’s possible residents will see an indefinite halt in “blue box” pickups next month as Fort Frances, Atikokan, and Dryden still haven’t found a company to take over recycling duties from the soon-to-be defunct Northwest Ontario Recycle Association.
NORA board members met in Dryden on Tuesday to discuss the results of its request for proposal, which ended up yielding just two as of the deadline.
“Most of our board members were disappointed,” NORA chair Dennis Brown, who also is the mayor of Atikokan, said Thursday.
One proposal—from DMM Industry of Dryden—was specifically for the City of Dryden while the other—by the southern Ontario-based Miller Group—was to service all three communities.
But Fort Frances Coun. Deane Cunningham, who also sits on the NORA board, said the proposal just wasn’t reasonable.
“The cost was very high—even higher than the current cost under NORA,” he remarked Thursday, referring to the $17 per capita fee in place since January.
“[Town] council has to review where we’re going. But it’s pretty much wait-and-see at this point,” Coun. Cunningham added, noting the matter will be discussed at Monday night’s regular meeting here.
“The cost seemed to be too high, at least for Atikokan,” agreed Mayor Brown. “We’re going to search around for other alternatives, possibly with Recool out of Thunder Bay.
“We’re running out of time,” he added. “We probably won’t have recycling in the first two weeks of July.”
In Dryden, Brad Johns, director of engineering and public works, also said the cost of going with the Miller Group—possibly $40 per capita—means their recycling future is uncertain, too.
“It’s muddy waters right now,” he remarked, adding a major factor is that NORA is to put its assets, including equipment and the processing plant, out to tender next Monday.
Dryden previously had assumed it would be the first to be offered the processing plant, at which time it would buy it and keep on processing recyclables.
But Johns noted the NORA board decided to pass a resolution putting all its assets out to tender.
“So Dryden will be bidding on it. Who knows who will end up with it? Maybe Miller?” said Johns.
The deadline for tenders is July 5.
But putting the plant out for tender means it will be shut down for July as some City of Dryden staff “clean up what’s left,” he added.
Dryden has been overseeing its operation since November.
Any revenue realized from the sale of the assets will be distributed to NORA’s partners, which, in turn, will use the money to repay their portion of its debt.
NORA agreed to disband in April after it became apparent there was no way to stop its mounting debt. Municipalities’ agreements with NORA expire June 30.
While the Waste Diversion Act (Bill 90) was passed earlier this month at Queen’s Park, Mayor Brown noted “it’s too late to help NORA.”
“If the money that will come out of this came a year or two ago, we probably could have kept things going,” he said, referring to the fact Bill 90 has been talked about for years.
“But it’s good for the municipalities. Once the funding starts to flow, it will help them go on [with recycling],” he added.
The act promotes the reduction, reuse, and recycling of wastes by establishing a permanent non-government corporation called Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) to develop, implement, and fund waste diversion programs.
WDO’s first task will be to develop a sustainable funding plan for Ontario’s municipal “blue box” program by establishing an industry funding organization to set and collect fees from affected industry.
The fees will pay municipalities 50 percent of their “blue box” program net costs.
Communities with a population of more than 5,000, including Fort Frances, are required by law to have a recycling program in place.