MCA trash egg didn’t hatch

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - FRONT PAGE - ALAN S. HALE

It may have taken al­most a year for the City of Corn­wall to start re­ceiv­ing garbage from homes and businesses on Corn­wall Island, but once it started, the ar­range­ment didn’t last more than two months.

Only a few weeks af­ter garbage trucks from the island be­gan ar­riv­ing with loads for the mu­nic­i­pal land­fill this spring, they stopped. No ex­pla­na­tion was given at the time, and in the months since then, the city still doesn’t know why Ak­we­sasne de­cided to aban­don the deal.

“They brought loads of ma­te­rial over for about two months, I’m not sure of the ex­act dates, but those sud­denly stopped. We’ve reached out to them, but we haven’t had an op­por­tu­nity to dia­logue with them so we can un­der­stand fur­ther,” said John St. Mar­seille, gen­eral man­ager of mu­nic­i­pal works.

The rea­son was money. Mo­hawk Coun­cil of Ak­we­sasne (MCA) Grand Chief Abram Benedict ex­plained the mo­ti­va­tion be­hind send­ing the island’s garbage to Corn­wall was that they were look­ing for ways to save some money.

The com­mu­nity has been us­ing the same pri­vate garbage dis­posal fa­cil­ity for many years, and the MCA was con­sid­er­ing its op­tions ahead of the ex­pi­ra­tion of that con­tract. But when they had to start pay­ing the city’s $75-per-tonne tip­ping fees, it be­came clear the cost sav­ings they ex­pected were not there.

“At the end of the day, we had to do a cost/ben­e­fit anal­y­sis and the cost sav­ings weren’t sig­nif­i­cant enough for us to con­tinue go­ing there,” said Benedict. “We’re al­ready tak­ing our garbage now out down High­way 138, which is a huge trans­porta­tion cost and, un­for­tu­nately, (Corn­wall’s) price was still not able to give us cost sav­ings. That’s what it came down to.”

The First Nation be­gan reach­ing out to the City of Corn­wall’s waste de­part­ment late last sum­mer and asked the city to be ready to start ac­cept­ing its garbage by the time its con­tract ended. But get­ting to that point took months of work.

Ac­cord­ing to St. Mar­seille, the city had to com­plete an en­vi­ron­men­tal screen­ing re­port for the Min­istry of the En­vi­ron­ment, which in­cluded pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion that was com­pleted last fall.

No con­tracts had been signed be­tween the city and the MCA when the de­ci­sion was made to stop send­ing garbage to Corn­wall, al­though work was be­ing done to get one signed. St. Mar­seille says there are no hard feel­ings from his end, and he still looks for­ward to ex­plor­ing other op­por­tu­ni­ties for col­lab­o­ra­tion in the fu­ture.

“I re­spect that,” said St. Mar­seille. “I can ap­pre­ci­ate that cost is a big fac­tor.”

The MCA’s de­ci­sion to put an abrupt end to the garbage trucks go­ing to Corn­wal­lis a bit of a prob­lem for the city be­cause the waste de­part­ment’s 2018 bud­get was ex­pect­ing rev­enue from Ak­we­sasne’s tip­ping fees. The deal with the MCA was even high­lighted by waste man­age­ment su­per­vi­sor Danielle Wat­son dur­ing her draft bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion to coun­cil in Jan­uary.

Ac­cord­ing to the city’s fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sures, not get­ting that those tip­ping fees has al­ready blown a $300,000 hole in the waste de­part­ment’s bud­get by the end of the sec­ond fis­cal quar­ter.

“Once we got the ap­proval (to re­ceive the trash) we built it into the rev­enue stream that we had an­tic­i­pated,” said St. Mar­seille. “So there is def­i­nitely some neg­a­tive vari­ance as­so­ci­ated with that rev­enue now that it is not forth­com­ing.”

But the city has not lost all of its busi­ness from Ak­we­sasne. Re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als from Corn­wall Island are still be­ing dropped off at the city’s sort­ing and ship­ping fa­cil­ity on Corn­wall Cen­tre Road.

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