Warden David Mayberry thinks 2016 could be an exciting and challenging year for Oxford County. Mayberry spoke with the Sentinel-Review about many things, including the Future Oxford plan, moving toward zero waste and the controversial Beachville landfill site.
Speaking of the Future Oxford plan, Mayberry said he thinks the plan could be exciting for the public once more details are made available.
"I think there's a lot of very positive things. The plan is a very positive plan," he said. "It wants to advance the county in a number of ways: Economically, socially and environmentally. So I see a lot of things happening."
Mayberry said he is eager to see the creation of the economic group to come out of the Future Oxford plan.
"Where our current economy is based (is) on agriculture and automotive really. If you look at Oxford, those are the two primary industries," he said, "but that doesn't mean they still will be in 20 or 30 years. While I assume they will have an integral part of our economy, I think that we might want to diversify and look broader than that. "Energy might become one of the major economic drivers in Oxford. I think there are things like that happening that to me are really exciting."
The warden also discussed the county moving towards zero waste and the attendant challenges faced in the near future and the years that follow, referencing the recently passed Bill 151.
"The province brought forward Bill 151. They created kind of a vision that I think most people would agree with - that we need to create a society where we don't have waste and we keep reusing materials," Mayberry said. "The challenge will be, how do you make that happen?"
In the county, Mayberry said Oxford has 25 to 30 years left in the existing landfill, which could "fly by very quickly." With council wanting to make the landfill last until 2100, the county will have to reduce the amount of generated waste by 75 or 80 per cent, starting now.
"Knowing that we're not going to do that this year, it means that next year it's going to have to be a little higher," he said. "So, I think the zero-waste group sort of has their hands full. They're going to have a difficult job in front of them, to look at how do we engage the industrial commercial institutional sector, to help and facilitate them to allow them to reduce. Then how do we take whatever waste is coming in to that landfill, and take out whatever we can and find other ways of recycling."
The issue of the proposed controversial landfill at Carmeuse Lime is also on Mayberry's radar. Right now, he's trying to understand why the province hasn't made any movement on the terms of reference in a year and a half.
"(It's) the longest in the history of the terms of reference for the province to accept, reject or alter," he said. "So you have to sort of say, 'what's happening?' But at the same time, they bring out a bill that says we're moving away from landfill and moving toward complete recycling, and that the producers are going to be completely responsible - in theory - for the garbage they make.
"While I'm in full agreement with Bill 151, the devil is always in the details," Mayberry added. "But the whole (landfill) project is certainly a challenge, but it's sort of stalled in the water right now and we're waiting to see if something is going to happen."
Mayberry said he has his own concerns with this particular issue, adding the longer it's delayed the more anxiety will build within the community.
"People are worried about it," he said. "It's just one more thing that's bothering them all the time. Is this going to happen or not, will the province just say no now or what. Those things have sort of an underlying social cost that we all should be thinking about."
But despite these concerns, Mayberry thinks there is an enormous amount of potential in Oxford County and is looking forward to what 2016 has to bring. "I get up in the morning an I'm excited for the day," he said. "There is so much potential in Oxford and there seems to be a real willingness to move the bar forward. When people say, we've got a goal and we want to get there, and they are willing to put energy into getting there. Those are always exciting times.
"I think 2016 is going to be an exciting year."