Orillia’s landfill site has received a major facelift.

"It’ll really help us in the winter months," said Greg Preston, manager of waste management for the City of Orillia, Friday, while giving council and media a tour of the facility. "We won’t have our equipment outside or in the shed as we did before. This will significantly improve equipment life.

"I also want to mention there have been improvements in this building in terms of staffing. We also have secretarial support that will improve customer service. In the past, with new residents, we’ve had to send them over to the wastewater treatment centre," he added.

The $1.2 million project was completed $200,000 under budget with the help of Greystone Project Management, which was the design/build firm hired for the job. The new building, at 5,240 sq ft., has been in use since August and has the capacity to house all five heavy machines used on the site.

"It’s able to house those in a heated building and that’s important in the winter months when we don’t want these pieces out there exposed to the elements. There’s more wear and tear on it just from being in the elements," said Preston.

Aside from providing space for an on-site secretary to help deal with customers, the building also contains a kitchen/social area to be used as a study room for training, lockers for male and female staff and an accessible washroom, said Kent Guptill, director of facilities and special projects.

"This is an energy-efficient design, as council had directed, so the features are our reflective roof, that will help with reflecting heat. All the light fixtures are LED and the water fixtures reduce consumption by 35% and the materials, insulated concrete walls and the roof, will help reduce electricity cost," he said.

Another important feature of the new building, said Preston, is related to the safety of those who work on the site from methane gas, which is a byproduct of landfills.

"Landfills technically have methane gas generation on them, so we have to be careful when we put a building on a landfill site," he said. "The building is designed to restrict methane gas from getting into it, furthermore, the methane alarm detection system automatically turns on the venting system because it is an explosive hazard at certain levels."

The building will also serve to provide the 14 staff members, who work year-round all days of the week, shelter from the elements and a comfortable work environment, said Andrew Schell, director of environmental services.

"The landfill site is sometimes a site that gets overlooked, but it’s very well used, and they have a lot of significant equipment there," said Mayor Steve Clarke. "The equipment that we’ve had there in the past has not been able to be protected from the weather, which means maintenance and cost has increased and longevity is shorter, so we built a facility that staff will be able to use. What was there before, quite frankly, was borderline unusable."

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