Woolwich got a refresher this week on why a single-tier government would be detrimental for residents of the region’s rural communities. Despite pushing to save the well-used waste transfer station, the township got only derision and a slap in the face for its troubles.
Even if you skip past the value-for-money proposition of having the region continue to run the facility in Elmira, there is very real interest in having the service continue in private hands. That would have required the region to make some effort to ensure continuity and to turn over the operation. Aside from a few worthless platitudes early on, the region this week told Woolwich to go pound salt. It was readily apparent staff and politicians did nothing since promising to look at the issue months ago – they were essentially running out the clock so that there was no chance the timing would allow for a hand-over. The region lied, plain and simple.
Why, you might ask? The region wants to funnel more money into the enormous white elephant known as Ion. Not only do they want to waste the purported savings from cutting the transfer stations on their pet project, you can bet they will be coming up with new ways to reduce the services you use in favour of taking your money for a useless service you don’t.
And there’s hypocrisy at play here: While regional officials complain incessantly about the need to keep waste out of the landfill site, their rationale for backstabbing a transfer station deal is that a private operator might choose to take the waste elsewhere – it’s all about the money, not helping to extend the life of the Erb Street dump. While it’s clear having the garbage go elsewhere would ease the burden on the landfill site – the ostensible reason for many costly diversion plans, including the mismanaged green bin program – it’s all about short-term thinking and the need to pour money into an unneeded and unwanted project that’s already bleeding red ink, with hundreds of millions of gallons to come.
This week’s decision – all but assured to be rubberstamped at regional council next Wednesday – shows disregard for township residents. If they were really interested in ensuring the public was served, regional officials would have quickly turned over the facility to a private operator. But they have no interest in that. No, they want the money.
Woolwich is now on its own if it wants to have a transfer station in the township. There is, however, not enough time to make a transition at the current facility – the region is set on closing it by year’s end.
Woolwich could agree to finance the continued operation of the site pending a sale to a private company. That would take a considerable amount of cash – regional figures show a net cost of about $9,000 a month this year for the poor level of service now on offer – and the township might not be in a position to do that, the region having offered no refund or tax reductions despite discontinuing to provide the service. Of course, there’s an easy spot to find the money: there is some $500,000 a year being wasted on a little-used bus service the region is happy to operate at a huge loss because it feeds the wasteful transit machine.
Far more people in the township use the transfer station, and it is of much greater use to businesses than GRT route 21. Axing it would free up some cash, and send a message to the region about working with duplicitous partners.