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August 24, 2019

City poop station report raises questions

A satellite image of North Bay's waste recycling centre. Philip Koning's first column for A Bit of the Bay Magazine puts a spotlight on a city staff report recommending not to expand a sanitation dumping station.

One city staff report this month did not get much attention, even though it was the subject of much interest this past spring.  Granted, the spot where RV owners dump their poop doesn’t rise to the top of the local news cycle, but it is a subject that speaks to the city’s commitment toward tourism.

The report, anticipated to be in front of council by the end of May, was presented at the Aug. 13 council meeting, and recommended that the city not construct a new RV sanitary dump station.  The site preferred by those advocating for a replacement of the previous one, was the Patton Street industrial waste dump station.  The previous site had to be decommissioned when the Seymour Street lot was sold by the city for $1.6M (paving the way for a new convenience store, gas station and car wash).

Reading the report, it seems like there is a focus on the costs of utilizing the existing Patton Street station, but very little attention paid to the value of it.  The costs of expanding the dump station are not listed, but there is a number for constructing an entirely new facility.

The usage was too hard to estimate, when it came to determining the number of potential users, but the operational costs could be quantified at $20,000 per year.  It was known that the previous station had around 30 users on a peak day, but estimating an average of 15 users, five days a week for four months over the summer could not be done.

If those users paid $10 each, over the season the city could generate $12,000 in revenue to offset the additional estimated $5,000 of costs to operate the existing facility.  Speaking of revenue, the report also doesn’t mention the money currently brought in by the commercial users…only the cost.

Costs and operational issues are highlighted in the report, without mentioning that there is city staff already working in the location at the Hazardous Waste Depot.  The Depot does get mentioned, but only that is already busy and not large enough to handle current and future growth of traffic that is expected. 

Wouldn’t future growth mean more revenue? 

Couldn’t the empty lot beside the station be utilized to accommodate more traffic?

It is interesting that the legal implications of spillage are considered for the RV users, and a containment system is to be included in any design, but it does not need to be installed for commercial users before the inevitable spill happens.

North Bay wants to be a tourist destination, and is willing to tax the people who come here to stay in hotels, but is reluctant to use that money to expand facilities for other types of visitors. 

Seems like an odd position for a city that says they are supporting tourism.

(Philip Koning is retired and enjoys sharing his keen interest in municipal issues and he'll will be making contributions to A Bit of the Bay Magazine on a regular basis, no doubt)

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