CRD directors deliberate over solid waste plan

A two-year review of the Cariboo Regional District’s solid waste management operations has resulted in an implementation plan.

A two-year review of the Cariboo Regional District’s solid waste management operations has resulted in an implementation plan that will guide the Cariboo Regional District over the next decade.

Setting a goal to achieve 50 per cent waste reduction by 2021, and a long-term goal of zero waste, the plan sets goals for more recycling, more manned sites in rural communities, eco depots where people make one stop, saving costs, enforcing waste bylaws, and improving education.

At a special board meeting held July 12, members of the CRD passed a resolution to approve the plan in principal and forward it to member municipalities for review and comment.

“It’s the largest public consultation we’ve ever done,” CRD chair Al Richmond said of the last two years.

CRD staff held open houses, 800 citizens answered CRD surveys, and another 400 are on a mailing list, wanting constant updates on the plan’s development.

Over 70 per cent of respondents want expanded recycling, especially in rural areas, manager of environmental services Mitch Minchau told the board.

He described the plan as a working document that gives the CRD a vision of where people think solid waste management needs to go.

Area F director Joan Sorley voiced approval of the plan, pointing out there are steps within it to review it on a regular basis.

“We could put a halt and rethink things; the way it’s laid out allows time for that,” Sorley said.

100 Mile Mayor Mitch Campsall raised concerns about increasing costs for taxpayers, and asked if there were ways to make programs cost neutral.

Estimated costs of eco depots is $206,332 a year per site- less after capital is paid.

“We could save in hauling costs if we compressed waste, and pay for 10 contracted operators to man sites,” Minchau responded. Presently the CRD is spending around $250,000 a year cleaning up illegal dumping.

Area H director Margo Wagner told the board the transfer station at Forest Grove receives truck loads of waste from other areas.

“Forty to 50 per cent of the waste is coming out of the area to Forest Grove. We’re serving a much larger population because people will haul stuff to our site because they don’t have to pay.”

Area A director and vice-chair Ted Armstrong was the sole person who voted against approving the plan in principal, indicating the costs could “sky-rocket” and he wanted more information about possible returns, particularly from different steward agencies.

“I’m not comfortable with the way it’s presented right now,” Armstrong said.

Although Campsall voted in favour of accepting the plan in principal, he said he’s concerned about the costs of operating eco depots.

“This is one of the biggest downloads I’ve ever seen by provincial and federal governments to require regional districts to handle the costs of handling large recyclable items,” he said.

Solid waste supervisor Tera Grady pointed out it costs $100 a tonne to haul waste material to Gibraltar Mine.

“It is a benefit to divert material so we’re no longer landfilling it — financially and environmentally. A lot of these materials have hazardous waste in them,” she said.

Delaying implementing a new plan any further was a concern for director Bruce Rattray.

“There is a lot of good stuff in the plan that I think we need to get on. A lot of it focuses on extended services and extension of the recycling program, but I think the eco depot concept is a good concept.”

“One of the major problems with a recycling program is if people have to travel all over town to find where to drop stuff off. Whatever we do has to be a sort of one-stop shop. There has to be an ability to do that.”

How that’s implemented, or what kind of relationship transpires with stewards, will have to be worked out, he added.

“We’ve got some work to do, but if you look at the timeframe in the plan, there’s lots of time to do it.”

Grady explained the plan will now be presented to member municipalities over the summer, and the board will consider any requested changes in September.

“Once approved, the plan will be sent to the Minister of Environment for review in October and then can take up to three months before we’ll hear back,” Grady said.