Given the option, Elmira-based Plein Disposal would step in to keep a waste drop-off operating in the community if Waterloo Region does go ahead with plans to close rural transfer stations in March 2015.
Speaking at a public meeting June 24, owner Adolph Plein said his firm would be open to discussing opportunities with the region, with the goal of keeping a community service in place.
Simply shuttering the Howard Avenue facility, already reduced to every other Saturday from the longstanding five days a week, is not a real option, he argued, addressing director of waste management Jon Arsenault, who attended the meeting at Woolwich council to explain the rationale for closing the stations.
“It’s going to be a culture change if you close it,” said Plein. “You’ve got to come up with an alternative – not just close it.”
For Coun. Mark Bauman, a private operation is an option if the region doesn’t listen to the demands of township residents. He didn’t seem optimistic about the latter.
“My confidence in the region solving this problem is very minimal,” he said, with the approval of about 75 residents gathered to raise concerns. “I’ve basically given up on the region. I’d like to see a smooth transition to some kind of private operator.”
In a later interview, Plein Disposal operating manager Paul Smith said the company is interested in talking to the region about options.
“It’s going to totally depend on what interest the region has,” he said, adding the issue has been well-discussed in the office. “Should they decide they’re going to have a full closure in 2015, it’s something we’ll be looking to talk with them about.”
While it’s very early in the process, Smith noted that alternatives will need to be put in place well before the planned closing date.
Questions such as the viability of taking over the current site on Howard Avenue, the potential need for another Elmira site and the Ministry of the Environment processes, among a long list of others, have to be answered.
Having previously run a private transfer station in Waterloo, Smith said he’s well aware of what it takes, including the need for a good business model. After Tuesday night’s meeting, he’s sure there’s a demand.
“There’s a great need for it here,” he said of the transfer station, adding residents are very concerned about the proposed closure.
“I was very surprised to see the number of people and to see the interest in this situation.”
On Wednesday, Arsenault said the region hasn’t yet looked at alternatives such as the one Plein suggested.
“No formal discussions or talks have been held to-date although I have had a few inquiries regarding future use of the sites.”