Coronavirus: 2-month grace period for garbage bag tags approved in Northumberland County

Northumberland County has approved a two-month deferral of waste tags beginning March 31. Tricia Mason/Global News Peterborough

Northumberland County residents will be permitted to put out one free garbage bag a week during regular curbside collection for the next two months as county council offers ways to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a special council meeting on Monday afternoon, councillors unanimously agreed to a motion that residents and businesses who receive curbside waste collection will receive the first bag of garbage collected for free.

The move is effective Tuesday until May 29.

Tags are mandatory on all curbside garbage bags in the county and there remains a two-bag limit per household each week for collection.

Brian Ostrander, mayor of the Municipality of Brighton, presented the motion after hearing concerns from residents.

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“This is a means to improve physical distancing and it would help alleviate current financial pressures for county residents,” he said.

However, Ostrander and others were not in favour going beyond one free bag per week.

“”We have to lend a hand where we can,” said county deputy warden Bob Crate, mayor of Trent Hills.

“I’m totally against opening up and putting whatever they want [into bags].”

Tags cost $3.75 each, which increased by $1 on March 1 — the first fee increase since 2007. The deferred tags raised questions among the councillors about how — or if — the county can recoup the funds after the grace period.

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“The money has to come from somewhere at some point in time,” said county warden Bob Sanderson, mayor of the Municipality of Port Hope.

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“I think this whole COVID-19 pandemic is going to have some associated costs which will have to be addressed further down the line.”

Sanderson said county council would be remiss if it didn’t consider options to help its residents. On Monday, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit reported eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Northumberland County.

Council also agreed that rural residents in the Municipality of Port Hope will be permitted to dispose of one bag of garage for free on each visit to the Hope transfer station.

“By allowing one free bag of garbage per week per household, council is taking decisive action to further support of our residents during this challenging time,” said Sanderson after the meeting in a release. “We do ask that residents please continue to properly dispose of waste, recycling and organics and set out only what they need to during this time. This will help our waste services team manage capacity and continue effectively providing essential curbside collection services for our community.”

Residents are also asked to adhere to the following practices:

  • Safe discarding of used disposable gloves is important to reduce the risk of illness. Ensure used gloves are thrown directly in the garbage.
  • Practice social distancing around waste collection staff.
  • Use certified compostable bags for green bin collection to reduce the risk to our collection staff.
  • Kleenex, wipes, disposable gloves, face masks and any medical waste belong in a garbage bag.
  • Recycling bin and lid sales and exchanges are currently on hold until further notice.

Weekly blue/grey box, green bin and waste collection continues as scheduled. Yard waste collection begins, as scheduled, the week of April 13 for Area 3; the week of April 20 for Area 4; the week of May 4 for Area 1; and the week of May 11 for Area 2.

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The Brighton, Bewdley and Seymour community recycling centres are currently closed to the public until further notice.

County council’s next regular meeting is April 15.

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