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County of Simcoe abandons organics and waste collections facility project

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The plan to build an organics management facility in Simcoe County is no more.

On Tuesday, the County of Simcoe's Committee of the Whole voted unanimously to scrap the development of the Environmental Resource Recovery Centre (ERRC) in favour of signing short and long-term contracts to process organic waste over the next 20 years.

"We were going full speed ahead; we had a very good business-case analysis in 2017, but we became aware there were a lot of changes in the industry," said Rob McCullogh, Solid Waste Management Director with the County of Simcoe. "We found the things that had changed: interest rates and construction costs have soared. When you add all those things up, it was no longer cost-effective."

McCullogh said outsourcing its organic waste processing would save the County roughly $220 million over 20 years, rather than building its own facility on property that is currently a Simcoe County forest.

"The cost of processing organics outside of the County has actually dropped significantly," McCullogh added.

When work on the ERRC began in 2012, plans included garbage transfer, recycling transfer, a potential future space for recycling sorting and the organics processing facility.

But now, as mandated by the province of Ontario, recycling has transitioned to producers' responsibility, resulting in the recycling transfer and sorting becoming redundant.

"Eight, nine years ago, there was no facility and the cost of these facilities were astronomical, so that's why we proceeded down the road to build ours," said County of Simce Warden Basil Clarke. "I really want to commend staff, we were shovel ready, ready to build, and they said 'let's have one more look at the market before we do that and low and behold, we find a $220 million in savings."

The County said roughly $2.2 million was lost as a result of the years of planning and working on the ERRC project.

"Our staff always tries to get the best value for the taxpayer," Clarke said. "Yes, we could have bulldozed ahead, but why would you do that? We always try to get the best bang for the buck for the ratepayers."

The County of Simcoe will look to ratify its decision to abandon the ERRC at a future meeting.   

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