A ‘frus­trat­ing’ sit­u­a­tion

Full im­pact of An­napo­lis County with­draw­ing from Val­ley Waste un­clear

Valley Journal Advertiser - - NEWS - BY KIRK STARRATT KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

With a part­ner rep­re­sent­ing more than one-fifth of Val­ley Waste- Re­source Man­age­ment with­draw­ing from the or­ga­ni­za­tion, the fu­ture im­pact re­mains un­de­ter­mined.

Val­ley Waste-Re­source Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity (VWRM) board chair­man John Kin­sella said they are cur­rently un­sure of all the changes that will hap­pen as the re­sult of An­napo­lis County opt­ing out of the Val­ley Waste in­ter-mu­nic­i­pal ser­vice agree­ment. What is cer­tain is that the cir­cum­stances present a chal­leng­ing time ahead for the waste au­thor­ity.

Part­ners are to give one year’s no­tice of with­draw­ing from Val­ley Waste. Kin­sella said this is to al­low for a pe­riod of transition to take place so the sub­ject mu­nic­i­pal­ity can dis­en­gage from the waste au­thor­ity. An­napo­lis County gave no­tice that it would with­draw in April, less than five months ago.

“There are a num­ber of con­tracts and le­gal obli­ga­tions as­so­ci­ated with be­ing a mem­ber and in or­der to dis­en­tan­gle them­selves from that, it takes a good bit of time,” Kin­sella said. “Some­times ne­go­ti­a­tion is in­volved in that process.”

He said An­napo­lis County owes ap­prox­i­mately $700,000 for Val­ley Waste ser­vices ren­dered since April and es­sen­tially stopped pay­ing its bill, which has “put a real crunch on Val­ley Waste.” The board de­cided to stop pro­vid­ing res­i­den­tial garbage, re­cy­clable and com­post col­lec­tion ser­vices to An­napo­lis County as of Aug. 18.

An­napo­lis County has writ­ten cheques in trust that can’t be cashed un­til cer­tain con­di­tions are met re­gard­ing con­tracts.

Ide­ally, Kin­sella said, An­napo­lis County would have re­mained a part­ner un­til the one-year no­tice pe­riod ex­pired in 2019. He said they’ve been talk­ing to ev­ery­one in gov­ern­ment that they can about the sit­u­a­tion and the dif­fi­culty is that it in­volves seven mu­nic­i­pal units, “six of which have one po­si­tion and one of the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties has a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion.”

Kin­sella said they are un­cer­tain at present what the im­pli­ca­tions would be for VWRM staff. The board will make de­ci­sions with re­gard to staffing as it works through the sit­u­a­tion with An­napo­lis County. They are hope­ful that An­napo­lis County can deal ef­fec­tively with the pro­vi­sion of col­lec­tion ser­vices.

Kin­sella said they aren’t ac­cept­ing any­thing at the west­ern waste trans­fer sta­tion in Lawrence­town. Val­ley Waste re­ceived no­tice of ex­pro­pri­a­tion of the Lawrence­town fa­cil­ity from An­napo­lis County on Aug. 16. He said, “we’re work­ing with our lawyers to re­spond ap­pro­pri­ately to that.”

He said VWRM knows that the sit­u­a­tion is “frus­trat­ing”, “dis­rup­tive” and “an in­con­ve­nience” for res­i­dents of Re­gion 5, which in­cludes An­napo­lis County.

“We never wanted to end up where we are to­day,” Kin­sella said. “We worked to­gether for 20 years for the ben­e­fit of more than 80,000 res­i­dents in the Val­ley re­gion.”

He said VWRM was cre­ated so that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and their cit­i­zens ben­e­fited from the ef­fi­cien­cies gained by work­ing to­gether and “we’ve been able to achieve that.”

Kin­sella pointed out that VWRM is rec­og­nized as a leader in solid waste man­age­ment in Nova Sco­tia with the highest par­tic­i­pa­tion rates in re­cy­cling and com­post­ing.

Since the part­ner mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have al­ways been able to work to­gether, Kin­sella said “that we’re dis­ap­pointed that this is how An­napo­lis County has cho­sen to han­dle this sit­u­a­tion.”

Kings County per­spec­tive

Kings County Mayor Peter Mut­tart said An­napo­lis County rep­re­sents ap­prox­i­mately 21 per cent of Val­ley Waste. Kings County is the largest part­ner in the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

He said VWRM will have to look at its pro­cesses to de­ter­mine if it has to “right size” in any re­spect and Mut­tart said he’s sure that would be the case. At the same time, Val­ley Waste must en­sure that the re­main­ing part­ners con­tinue to re­ceive ser­vice.

He said it would mean a re­duc­tion in the amount of waste that Val­ley Waste must process and in the as­so­ci­ated costs. By the same to­ken, it means the loss of one of the part­ners, which could im­pact some as­pects of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Mut­tart pointed out that Val­ley Waste would con­tinue to serve An­napo­lis Royal, Bridgetown, Mid­dle­ton and Bear River First Na­tion.

He said the sit­u­a­tion has to be ap­proached from two lev­els, the own­er­ship by six mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties op­posed to seven, and the cost of op­er­a­tions. At the or­ga­ni­za­tional level, Val­ley Waste is run by a board of di­rec­tors com­posed of in­di­vid­u­als ap­pointed by the part­ner mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and the man­age­ment it­self.

“Man­age­ment will have to come up with rec­om­men­da­tions to its board as to what, if any, changes need to be in­sti­tuted in or­der to rec­og­nize the ab­sence of An­napo­lis County,” he said.

Mut­tart said there is a lot of think­ing hap­pen­ing now around what form the Val­ley Waste or­ga­ni­za­tion could take in the fu­ture. Un­til re­cently, it wasn’t a sure thing that An­napo­lis County would be leav­ing.

Other things have hap­pened that have im­pacted the im­me­di­acy of the sit­u­a­tion, in­clud­ing An­napo­lis County not pay­ing for col­lec­tion ser­vices and ex­pro­pri­at­ing the Lawrence­town trans­fer sta­tion. In this re­gard, plan­ning will have to be “ramped up.”

“That causes ev­ery­body to ac­knowl­edge the po­si­tion that An­napo­lis County has ef­fec­tively left, whether it’s a one year no­tice re­quire­ment or not,” Mut­tart said.

What now has to be sorted out is An­napo­lis County’s rights and obli­ga­tions as­so­ci­ated with leav­ing and what the im­pact will be on the Val­ley Waste or­ga­ni­za­tion it­self.

Mut­tart said that, up un­til now, An­napo­lis County has had a rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the board ta­ble who has said they want to leave, they’re go­ing to ex­pro­pri­ate a Val­ley Waste as­set and they’re re­port­ing Val­ley Waste to the RCMP. Yet, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity has felt en­ti­tled to have its rep­re­sen­ta­tive at­tend board meet­ings and vote on every de­ci­sion made.

Mut­tart said An­napo­lis County’s refu­ta­tion of its con­trac­tual obli­ga­tions to the or­ga­ni­za­tion has “pretty much dis­en­ti­tled them from par­tic­i­pat­ing in its op­er­a­tion un­til such time as we can ne­go­ti­ate them out.”

Mut­tart said the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has of­fered ar­bi­tra­tion on the is­sues, some­thing the six re­main­ing part­ners were will­ing to do but An­napo­lis County was not.

“I don’t know where one goes with one of your for­mer part­ners who re­fuses to talk about any­thing,” Mut­tart said.

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