Long term fix for composting close

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Waste Management employee Clarence Postma grabs an armful of sticks from the back of a pickup during the first of Petrolia’s compost days at the Progress Drive site. The Town of Petrolia has eight more days planned throughout the year after closing its own compost site after a Ministry of the Environment inspection. Heather Wright Photo

Compost depot not as popular as compost site was

Petrolia’s Chief Administrative officer says there could be a more permanent solution to the town’s composting problem in the next two weeks.
In April, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change came to the Maude St. Extension site for a surprise inspection. It listed 14 areas of concern, everything from poor bookkeeping to not keeping track or a record of the types of materials in the compost site.
The town closed the site down and worked with Waste Management to set up seven composting days on Progress Drive. Residents are expected to buy a $20 pass at town hall to use the site on the appointed days.
Monday, in a report to council, Mike Thompson, director of operation, wrote the depot has been operating with “great success” but some people voiced concern they have more yard waste than they can dispose of in one trip. Thompson suggested, and council agreed, that instead of allowing just one trip per compost day, the passes would be for eight trips whenever the user wanted. And Thompson said they could purchase another pass once the eight trips are done.
Thompson says part of the reason for the limitations is budget restrictions. The town set aside $18,000 for the Waste Management depot.
“We have a budget amount for compost and we’re trying to stay within that amount,” he says. “We’re trying to curb the costs of it and still supply the service…We’re trying to keep the tonnage down. If we make it carte blanche and they bring as much as they want… we go over budget. We’ve curbed the usage to hit the budget.”
Thompson says fewer people are using the site, he believes because of the restrictions in place. “There weren’t any rules before,” he told councillors. “We’re not selling as many passes.”
CAO Manny Baron says so far 100 passes have been purchased for the depot out of the 2158 households in the community.
Councillor Ross O’Hara was critical of the move. “I think we should be encouraging people to use the compost site instead of letting it (grass clippings) lay around on the lawn,” O’Hara says.
Baron says the town could add extra composting dates, if council and residents requested. “If we’re okay spending more money, we don’t like to have members of the public being disappointed…that’s the last thing we wanted.”
But Baron believes a solution may be close. Town management met with MOECC officials May 26 to talk about the issues it found. He adds the town has been talking with Waste Management about possible solutions for next year. He hopes to have that information to council soon.
“Me might have a solution in a week or two, where it would go somewhere back to normal,” he told councillors. It will never be the same…but we’ll come back to council with a solution that will please most and withing budget or close to it.”