Six recycling bins will be headed to Lavigne, resolving the final decision council needed to make to pass the solid waste management budget for 2020-21.
The budget had been held up since early May as a result of two items, the placement of recycling bins in Lavigne and Cache Bay. The two had been lumped together since recycling bins were proposed for Lavigne in 2019, and then a resident from Cache Bay wrote council indicating they also had a need for more recycling options. Cache Bay has bi-weekly recycling pickup, while Lavigne does not.
Purchasing bins for Lavigne was a particularly controversial item, as Mayor Joanne Savage and several members of council thought that this constituted a reconsideration and that staff had been given a clear directive to put recycling bins in the community at a Nov. 5, 2019 meeting. But a review of that Nov. 5 meeting shows council was operating under the assumption that they would be able to refurbish old bins the municipality already owned to satisfy the pilot program being discussed for Lavigne. When that was no longer an option and new ones needed to be purchased, the bins became a budget item, as CAO Jay Barbeau outlined in an April 29 memo to council.
“The minutes reflect a willingness to consider this initiative and that, based on the information that was believed at the time, we could implement a pilot program at little cost utilizing bins that we thought were usable,” he wrote. “The minutes clearly indicate that if bins needed to be acquired, which is now the case, that it would be a budgetary discussion.”
Those budget discussions were testy, once the upfront costs for a recycling program in both communities was quoted at $143,624. After seeking clarity on the minutes from that Nov. 5, 2019 meeting, the matter was brought to council on May 4. It was there that Mayor Savage stated she would not vote to pass the solid waste budget unless staff returned with suggestions for less costly options. After the second council meeting in May was cancelled and there wasn’t time to address it at the June 1 meeting, the matter dragged into last week.
Council was presented with the option to approve one location and not the other, and though most members seemed to agree that Lavigne should have some form of recycling available to residents beyond the dump, the June 15 discussions still devolved into typical council sniping. Coun. Dan Roveda accused Mayor Savage of rehashing the whole argument from previous meetings as the Mayor attempted to “put it on record” that a decision was already made at the Nov. 5, 2019 meeting. Halfway through opening the floor to comments, environmental committee chair Coun. Rolly Larabie suggested voting on the matter, prompting Coun. Denis Sénécal to start drawing comparisons to Russia; and once the vote was complete, Coun. Larabie and Coun. Lise Sénécal were confused by the number of bins Lavigne would actually get, thinking there would only be three.
Ultimately, Barbeau said at the recommendation of the WN Environmental Services manager, anything less than six “would provide an increasing amount of challenge” for pickup and sorting.
No one on council expressed interest in awarding recycling bins to Cache Bay right away, with Coun. Yvon Duhaime, Dan Roveda and Leo Malette all citing calls they had received from residents saying there was no need for the bins because they have regular pick-up. The Mayor and Coun. Lise Sénécal wanted staff to return with more information on recycling in Cache Bay, but the vote to bring the discussion back was defeated.
Overall, the change in the solid waste rate expenditures went from a levy of 1 per cent to 1.28 per cent. The cost is associated with operating the bins; the acquisition of new recycling containers will be funded through reserves.
Integrity Commissioner costs go up for council
The annual report by Integrity Commissioner Patrice Cormier was presented during the June 15 meeting and the cost of the independent advisor nearly doubled in the second year overseeing complaints filed against council members.
“As was stated in my first report, my workload as Integrity Commissioner during the 2019-20 reporting cycle… would most likely be higher than in the next years to come,” said Patrice Cormier, Integrity Commissioner for West Nipissing. “This was largely due to consultation with members of council and staff, and work related to the review and implementation of the code of conduct for members of council, during that, my first year. I’m sad to say that that’s not the case… The volume of work has in fact increased, after that initial period of education and adjustment to the new code.”
West Nipissing paid the office of the IC $24,030.06 for services in 2020-21, compared to $12,306.88 for 2019-20.