Rural Canada: Waste Management in Northern and Rural Canada

Updated: Mar 29

The final case study in a three-part series on Waste Management in Northern and Rural Canada by Chanel Best. This series is part of the Kroeger Policy Review's Issue 2 on Waste Management in Canada. To read the series primer click here.

CASE STUDY: Bruce Mines, Ontario (Population 582) [1]; Sedgewick, Alberta (Population: 811) [2]; Nackawic, New Brunswick (Population: 941) [3]


Waste management services tend to run at higher costs in rural population centers relative to large centers [4], and the quality of service is inconsistent and overall less comprehensive compared to cities. Residents in these regions do not have the same access to the same level of services, many services are not offered at all such as access to hazardous waste, or e-waste disposal, less frequent recycling or services that have been cancelled. In Bruce Mines, ON the resident is responsible for transporting e-waste and hazardous waste approximately 75.1km one way to the nearest site in Sault St. Marie ON [5], [6]. If a resident does not have access to a car then they cannot adequately dispose of this kind of waste linked to environmental distress. Glass is now not recycled at all in this community it expected to be put in with regular garbage [7]. In Sedgewick AB, the recycling program was discontinued due to lack of engagement from the town, with current infrastructure only allowing for residents to participate in recycling if they desire [8]. In Nackawic NB, garbage collection is outsourced but recycling is managed by the town. There is no guide provided for residents when it comes to which materials are recyclable and collection is offered only once a month [9]. Like Bruce Mines residents of Nackawic are responsible for their own hazardous waste disposal, the designated site is 69 km one way [10]. The pattern of similar problems facing rural waste disposal appear across different provinces, improper waste services have various health safety and environmental impacts.


Click on the link to read the Case Study on the Northwest Territories and the Case Study on Northern Ontario.

  1. Statistics Canada, Census Profile 2016, Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dppd/prof/details/page.cfm?B1=All&Code1=3557021&Code2=35&Data=Count&Geo1=CSD&Geo2 =PR&Lang=E&SearchPR=01&SearchText=Bruce+Mines&SearchType=Begins&TABID=1

  2. Statistics Canada, Census Profile 2016, Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dppd/prof/details/page.cfm?B1=All&Code1=4807044&Code2=48&Data=Count&Geo1=CSD&Geo2 =PR&Lang=E&SearchPR=01&SearchText=Sedgewick&SearchType=Begins&TABID=1

  3. Statistics Canada, Census Profile 2016, Accessed December 19, 2020. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dppd/prof/details/page.cfm?B1=All&Code1=1310054&Code2=13&Data=Count&Geo1=CSD&Geo2 =PR&Lang=E&SearchPR=01&SearchText=Nackawic&SearchType=Begins&TABID=1

  4. Environment and Climate Change Canada, 2017

  5. Town of Bruce Mines, Recycling and Waste, Accessed December 19, 2020 http://www.brucemines.ca/waste.html

  6. Directions from Bruce Mines ON, to 402 Fifth Line E, Sault Ste. Marie, ON the recommended waste disposal site for the town of Bruce Mines. (Google Maps, Accessed December 20, 2020.)

  7. Town of Bruce Mines, Collection Guide, 2020. http://www.brucemines.ca/Tri%20Neighbours%202020.pdf

  8. Specifies that recycling collection is up to residents to bring to a local facility run by the Flagstaff Regional Solid Waste Management Association (FRSWMA), there is no plan for hazardous waste disposal, paper products and tin are the only items recycled. (Town of Sedgewick, Waste Management, Accessed December 20, 2020. https://sedgewick.ca/services/waste-management/

  9. Monthly pickup is less frequent compared to the typical weekly or bi-weekly pickup seen in other municipalities. (Town of Nackawic, Public Works Department, Accessed December 20, 2020. http://nackawic.com/public-works-department/)

  10. Directions from Nackawic NB, to 1775 Alison Blvd, Fredericton, NB the recommended disposal site by the municipality of Nackawic. (Google Maps, Accessed December 20, 2020)