Sandy Casselman
LJI Reporter

MORRISBURG – With only a year of capacity left at the Matilda Landfill, Municipality of South Dundas politicians are pursuing a 40,000 cubic metre expansion.

During the Feb. 1 council meeting, Environmental Services director Danielle Watson told council that although they started 2020 thinking they had 2.6 years of capacity left at the local landfill, the updated calculation revealed that capacity has been reduced to a single year.

“In 2020, Matilda Landfill accepted 7,267 cubic metres of garbage, which is significantly larger than our past history,” Watson said. “It’s about a 20 per cent increase.”

The most recent volumetric scan was completed in December 2020.

“Each year, as part of a best practice standard, the landfill is subject to a volumetric scan,” she explained, noting the scan takes the total volume in the existing landfill and compares it to the final approved contours from the original landfill design.

She said the 20 per cent increase could be attributed to several factors: Last year was the first year Williamsburg Landfill has been closed; the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home order saw more residents taking on both small and large home clean-up projects, leading to larger and more frequent loads to the dump; and low tipping fees from January to October 2020 are also thought to be a factor.

“Staff are proposing that we go to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MECP) and request an amendment to our Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) to increase the volume at Matilda for an additional 40,000 cubic metres,” Watson said. “The reason why we’re only proposing 40,000 cubic metres is because that’s a simple amendment to our existing application, whereas anything over 40,000 would require an environmental screening process, which sometimes requires an environmental impact assessment to be done, and those take quite a few years.”

If approved, the increased capacity could give the landfill several years added to its lifespan. This is dependent on the amount of garbage being disposed of each year.

“We’d get another five years out of Matilda Landfill,” Watson estimated, adding that the additional time would allow staff to pursue whichever direction council wished to go in terms of long-term garbage disposal options.

Council members briefly discussed waste diversion opportunities, as well as the future of garbage disposal in South Dundas, whether that be through a transfer station or a larger landfill expansion.

“Even though it buys us five years, I still think we should get pretty aggressive with diversion programming,” Deputy Mayor Kirsten Gardner said.

Watson noted there are several diversion items on the agenda for the 2021 draft budget discussions; these include furniture diversion, where furniture would be rerouted to a recycling facility in Montreal and construction waste diversion to a recycling facility in Ottawa.

“I wish we had a better plan, so we didn’t have these things jumping out at us every once in a while,” Coun. Archie Mellan said. “I think we’re sort of heading in the right direction. I don’t think we have any other choice.”

All agreed that, for now, the proposed application for a 40,000 cubic metre expansion would “buy time” until a long-term decision could be made. Mayor Steven Byvelds said he would like to see that decision made by this summer.