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County waste facilities fully re-opening week of May 25

The solid waste services committee has decided to move ahead with opening all facilities despite staff recommendation of only opening four
County of Wellington Administration Centre. Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday file photo

COUNTY OF WELLINGTON – County waste facilities will be fully re-opening on their pre-COVID schedules the week of May 25. 

Das Soligo, manager of solid waste services, prepared a report for Tuesday’s solid waste services committee meeting that recommended a phased-in opening of their facilities for health and safety and physical distancing purposes.

This would have entailed opening four of six facilities, leaving Elora and Rothsay closed due to concerns about a lack of running water and limited services for residents. 

The report also recommended a three-week adjustment period for the facilities to be open five days a week, Monday to Friday, as opposed to four days at Riverstown and three days at the other facilities. This was to address an expected large crowd when the facilities open.

Warden Kelly Linton raised concerns about this plan, calling it overly complicated to communicate to residents. He also said he felt leaving the Elora site closed is a bad move.

“It’s the most used transfer station, people are used to going there certain days,” Linton said. “I think it’s going to be really tough for Belwood to take the amount of volume that typically goes to a facility located between Elora and Fergus. Belwood is on a county road, we are going to have some line-ups on a county road.”

Soligo said staff have spent a lot of time considering the Elora facility and understand it being closed would have a big impact on the Belwood transfer station. 

“Staff have been talking about whether it's feasible to open all sites, excluding Rothsay, with the regular operating hours,” Soligo said.  “Our plan has evolved a bit as we’ve discussed this and we feel it is possible.”

Linton said he felt going with the old operating hours was the better option. 

Councillor Campbell Cork said he agreed because they need Saturday as an option for residents, even if it would be overly busy. 

“If we open at the start of the week, there’ll be two or three days in there for everybody to take some of the heat off it,” Cork said. “Saturday, from most of the calls I’m getting, is the day people are wanting to be there.”

Councillor Mary Lloyd pointed out the concern for staff about a lack of current hand-washing facilities at the Elora facility.

“Not having a place where you can wash your hands puts a lot of onus on using sanitizer,” Lloyd said. “I do like the hours being inclusive of Saturday.”

Soligo said the Elora transfer station’s office is more like a trailer that has outhouses with some running water. 

“It’s not ideal but it's something we feel can be managed through greater health and safety practices,” Soligo said, noting he will be meeting with site supervisors in the near future. 

“We’ll be putting together a procedure list for the staff around where to wipe, where to sanitize and to take on various measures. Elora has more challenges than four of the other sites but we plan to go through and work site-by-site on how they can open.”

Chair Gregg Davidson put forward a motion to open all six facilities at their pre-COVID schedules the week of May 25 which was carried by the committee.

Soligo said in the meeting that residents need to expect very long wait times and they need to follow physical distancing guidelines. This includes encouraging the continued-use of curbside collection and only bringing large items to these facilities.