Recycling hot topic at council

While Fort Frances has not filed an intent to leave the Northwest Ontario Recycle Association like many other area municipalities, questions were raised at Monday night’s council meeting as to the town’s future with NORA.
One concern was how communities that may be leaving NORA affect those that stay.
“As far as the debt goes, whether the other communities pull out or not, our portion remains the same,” Pat Hickerson, manager operations and facilities, told councillors.
A second concern is whether the town can handle the 70 percent increase in fees from $10 per capita to $17 effective Jan. 1—a matter that has since been referred to the administration and finance executive committee.
Still another was whether the town would ever leave NORA if it can’t find an answer to its money woes.
“Could we consider doing it on an in-house basis. Collect it and truck it off to someone who wants to buy it?” asked Coun. Neil Kabel.
“It’s a possibility,” responded Mayor Witherspoon.
“I’m just afraid of looking like the bad guys here,” noted Coun. Kabel.
“But we have to do what’s in our best interests,” replied Coun. Dave Bourgeault.
But many of these questions could soon be answered. CAO Bill Naturkach noted town administration sent a recommended request for proposals to NORA late last week.
NORA’s board will meet soon to discuss it, then use it to fish for possible contractors to take over the recycling service.
“Unlike the tender process, which can be quite rigid, this has been done so there can be innovative approaches, such as sorting recyclables,” Naturkach remarked.
He added the RFP process takes into account that other communities previously not associated with NORA may not be involved.
Municipalities that have filed intentions to leave NORA come June include Rainy River, Emo, La Vallee, Morley, Alberton, Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls, Kenora, Sioux Lookout, Ear Falls, and Red Lake.
NORA initially had decided in late October to hand over its recycling operations to Recool of Thunder Bay in the wake of growing financial woes, including an estimated debt of $585,000, a $500,000 price tag to refurbish its Dryden-based plant, an aging fleet of trucks, an inefficient system, and a weakening economy.
But that deal later was pulled from the table so a more formal request for proposals could be drafted, with the current “blue box” program to continue as is until at least June.
Hickerson also told the committee of the whole that recycling pickup should be back to normal this week although he admitted that even Monday evening, some recyclables in the west end had not been collected despite what he previously had been told by Buttner Enterprises.
Councillors agreed the fiasco that resulted from NORA’s decision to keep its Dryden plant closed from Dec. 23-Jan. 2 should never happen again.
“The problem with keeping [a ‘blue box’] out is the cardboard gets wet and then it’s worthless. And if there’s a windy day, it gets blown all over the place,” said Coun. Bourgeault.
“It’s not a good situation and they should be made aware of that.”
“And if you put it out religiously, and you don’t see any pick-ups, you might go, ‘What the heck!’ and throw it all in the garbage, which, of course, defeats the point,” noted Coun. Gilson.
“And if a snowplow comes along, ‘Bang!’ There goes you’re ‘blue box,’” added Mayor Witherspoon.