KILLALOE – Ontario’s Minister of Environment visited the Valley on August 21 to tour the renovated Killaloe waste site.
The Honourable Jim Bradley, along with other dignitaries, also took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially unveil the new waste management system in place.
Killaloe Hagarty Richards Mayor Janice Visneskie said the new program is the result of more than four years of public consultations, meetings with ministers, and council discussions.
“In my 26 years as a politician, I can honestly say that this is the first time that I have extended a greeting to a waste disposal site, but I think this is the most appropriate location for this event,” Visneskie said speaking to a crowd gathered at the waste site that morning.
Like many other landfills in the province, the one in Killaloe was beginning to fill up at a fast rate and township council needed to figure out a plan for the future.
During the years, council held five public meetings and also invited the public to fill out a survey. Ratepayers wanted something that was sustainable, environmentally and economically feasible.
“Based on the responses, export was the preferred choice for the future of waste management in Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards, and that is what has brought us here today,” Visneskie explained.
The township now has a transfer station/compacting unit and exports its solid waste to the Lafleche Environmental facility in Moose Creek. KHR also implemented a clear-bag program to encourage more diversion.
Lafleche uses a BioReactor landfill, which helps move along the decomposition of waste. It also captures methane gasses which is then turned into energy.
“We didn’t feel like taking our waste just somewhere and creating a problem for another municipality was the answer,” she explained.
Visneskie said this transition would not have been possible, however, without the dedication of the late Ernie Cybulski, who served as councillor and chair of waste management for the township for many years. Visneskie explained that Ernie read every report and spent hours on research and was a true advocate for sustainability.
Sadly, Ernie passed away suddenly in 2012 and was not able to see his hard work come to fruition.
His wife Sharon, was invited to the gathering. She said knowing Ernie, he would have credited everyone else for the project’s completion.
“He would never mention himself behind it all,” Sharon said. “He put his heart and soul into this. He just would be so proud to see how it looks today.”
The couple would have been married 43 years this May. Visneskie credited Sharon’s dedication throughout the years, too, because she always picked up the phone when the mayor called and sacrificed time with Ernie when he was called to the job.
“I used to tease him about all of his time spent at the waste site,” Sharon smiled. “I said when you die, I am going to have your ashes scattered at the waste site. He told me I couldn’t do that because that’s pollution.”
Sharon added that’s what she misses most about her late husband: His good humour, his drive and his vision.
“I am very pleased that I was invited because I just feel his presence,” she explained. “If there were any place he wanted to be today it would have been here.”
Visneskie said the whole project would not have been a success without Ernie.
She then turned her focus to her council members and township staff. She said although the road leading to the celebration has not always been smooth, council has always been able to work through the rough patches.
The mayor added that the township was able to save a significant amount of dollars by using staff and councillors for the research and implementation of the project. The savings, she said, translates into savings for taxpayers.
Councillor Stanley Pecoskie is now the new chair of the Waste Management Committee and Visneskie said he has worked very hard on the project.
“He spent a great deal of time reviewing Ernie’s notes and the paperwork relating to the project, and he has volunteered countless hours to help the public with the transition to the new system. He actually came to the site and volunteered his time to work with our staff and with the public to ensure a smooth transition,” Visneskie said.
Story continues in the August 28, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette