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Taxpayers denied garbage pickup, accuse city of discrimination

Dispute between Grape Island residents and association prompts city to pull plug on collection; 'Please stop the discrimination and prevent further litigation,' warns citizen

Some residents on Grape Island are accusing the city of discrimination and say the municipality is denying them a “very basic service” by refusing to pick up their compost, recycling and garbage.

For years, residents have dropped off their waste at a private depot owned and maintained by the Grape Island Property Owners Association (GIPOA) at their parking lot on Forest Avenue South.

The city’s contracted waste management crews come by weekly to pick up the items - just as they would at any other municipal residential address.

But a long-simmering dispute between the islanders and a handful of mainlanders who were upset about encroachments in addition to dredging and other issues has led some of the residents on the island to break away from GIPOA.

As a result, those residents have been banned by GIPOA from using their assets, such as the GIPOA parking lot. 

“This in turn created an access issue to the Forest Avenue Depot, which is located on the privately-owned GIPOA parking lot,” noted a report presented to city councillors Monday.

To ensure “equal access,” city staff suggested the city stop picking up trash and recyclables at the depot. 

Instead, they will provide each homeowner with 20 garbage tags annually. Residents will have to transport their garbage, recycling materials and compost to the city’s waste diversion site.

Councillors supported the idea, although the decision must be ratified at Monday’s regular city council meeting.

The decision did not sit well with a pair of residents who weighed in virtually during the open public forum component at the end of Monday’s meeting.

“I am most disappointed to be standing in front of city council for the second time in two months defending my family’s rights as tax-paying residents of Orillia,” said Glenda Gilbert, a longtime Grape Island resident.

“This time it’s for garbage disposal and collection - a very basic need,” she said. “This is clearly an example of discrimination towards residents of Grape Island. You indicated you are striving for fairness … this is definitely not fair to my family or the majority of Grape Island residents.”

She said council’s move would likely lead to residents, who typically leave the island on Sundays - when the landfill is closed - with their garbage in tow.

“I wonder how Bonnie Crombie, Mayor of Mississauga, will feel about me bringing my Orillia garbage to Mississauga,” she asked.

She said she and her family have been paying municipal taxes for 50 years and should be treated like other taxpayers.

Gilbert said many residents are frustrated about the upheaval created after “a scathing letter was submitted to the city over three years ago from a disgruntled mainland neighbour.”

She said since then, “city staff (have) seemingly done everything in their power to remove our acquired rights of access to our property and are now proposing to remove one of our most basic services to any residential community and that is localized garbage, recycling and compost collection. 

“That is the minimum you should be providing for my family.”

Amanda DeGroot agrees.

“I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I was in your city staff that we only received this information (about the new plan) Friday at 4 p.m.,” said DeGroot.

“We were not contacted at any point to provide input, ideas, or suggestions or be involved in any manner,” she lamented.

“As a full-time resident and taxpayer in Orillia, I am entitled to the same garbage pickup as any other residential taxpayer in Orillia,” she said.

She urged council to consider other options and not ratify this decision at Monday night’s council meeting.

“There are a number of options available to ensure you don’t continue to spend taxpayers’ money to satisfy a very small group of individuals who have already made another personal decision,” said DeGroot, pleading with council to reconsider.

Gilbert was even more blunt.

“Please stop the discrimination and prevent further litigation,” she warned.

Earlier, when the decision was discussed, councillors expressed disappointment about the situation, but support for the solution proposed by staff.

“It is really disappointing that we have to look at doing something like this, but it absolutely is about making sure everyone on the island is treated equally,” said Coun. David Campbell.

Mason Ainsworth expressed similar sentiments.

He said it’s “not fair” that some people are able to have their garbage picked up and others aren’t.

Ainsworth said council’s “motion is about creating that equality so everybody that is on the island is treated equally, which is something I support.”

Coun. Rob Kloostra said a compromise was needed, and suggested GIPOA should consider charging non-members a user fee to use the depot.

“GIPOA residents and island residents (have) to work this out (and) come to some kind of compromise,” said Kloostra.

He said the situation is “almost turning into a them problem not an us problem. We’re just kind of thrown into the middle of this and have to find a solution.”


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Dave Dawson

About the Author: Dave Dawson

Dave Dawson is community editor of
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