Who speaks for municipalities on waste management matters? If you’re unsure, you’re in good company because a cohesive municipal voice has been hard to find. But this may soon change with the formation of the Municipal Waste Integration Network (MWIN), a newly established association with a clear municipal focus.
In Ontario alone, over 600 municipalities operate approximately 350 various curbside programs as well as depots, landfills and material recovery facilities. It’s next to impossible to decipher the municipal point of view and extremely difficult for the province to know what municipalities want them to regulate.
MWIN is quickly positioning itself to fill that void. Officially launched in June, the association has attracted several members from the public and private sectors. Municipal membership now includes most of the large regional governments, so that the association represents almost 65 per cent of Ontario’s population.
The focus of MWIN will be municipal waste management systems, from diversion to disposal. Everyone in the public or private sectors associated with delivering these services will have a voice, including the planners, operators, haulers and equipment manufacturers. The plan is to synthesize these views and to provide an effective voice to government to help shape regulatory policy and legislation.
The association also plans to become an important vehicle for networking, training, analysis, and to share municipal waste management information. This will help program operators develop more efficient systems, and thus to contribute to the diversion goals of the next century.
Currently the association is being led by a voluntary steering committee that consists of municipal and private sector volunteers. Around the table are a number of municipal solid waste managers, recycling coordinators, private sector program operators, brand owners and consultants.
To ensure that the municipal government view is paramount, careful safeguards are being put into place. Under a recently adopted structure, the 17-member board of directors will be comprised of a president and past president, a vice-president and four regional hub chairs, all of whom are to come from the municipal sector. In addition, there will be a vice-president from the private sector, a secretary/treasurer and nine committee chairs to be elected from the membership, with the overall proviso that about two-thirds of the board members (11 of the 17) come from the municipal sector.
The proposed committees span the spectrum of municipal waste management functions, including: integrated waste planning, landfill/disposal, collection/transfer and diversion.
Although provincially focused, the association has the ability to be a national organization. Federally incorporated, the Ontario chapter should become a model for other Canadian regions. But for now the focus is on Ontario and on building the membership base, links with government and other waste management related associations. For more information contact Janet Laird, manager of solid waste services for the City of Guelph at 519-837-5604; Paul Murray, principal at Gartner Lee Limited at 905-477-8400 ext. 220; or, Shirley Lackie, MWIN Coordinator at 705-835-6224.
Arthur Potts is principal of Municipal Affairs Consulting and a member of the MWIN Steering Committee.