At the SCRD board meeting on Thursday, February 25, 2010, the decision to close the Pender Harbour landfill was put on hold until the next board meeting on March 11.
Howard White of Save the Pender Harbour Landfill Committee addressed the Board asking that the landfill remain open. White also presented the board with a cheque to pay for a survey of Area A residents regarding the landfill options. (The Board later returned the cheque.)
Former Area A director, John Rees also addressed the board. He noted that Area A has always had a culture of independence and a desire to make their own decisions and find solutions to problems such as waste.
On February 11, the Infrastructure Services Committee adopted Recommendation 17 that the landfill be closed and a transfer station be set up to haul residuals to the Sechelt landfill. During that meeting, Area A director Eric Graham tried twice to get the committee to approve a survey of some type to get the desires of the area's voters. They were defeated.
Again the subject of a survey or referendum came before the Board. Administrator John France explained the legal needs for a referendum as covered under the Local Government Act. The Board directed staff to research the cost and legalities for a referendum on a transfer station or expansion of the landfill.
Directors Turnbull, Inkster, Graham, Nohr and Lewis voted to hold the referendum (subject to the development of a satisfactory process laid out in the projected staff report).
Chair Donna Shugar stated that if Area A votes to continue to operate the landfill then all costs should be covered by Area A tax base, not the region wide budget. Gibson's Mayor Barry Janyk stated that staff time taken up by researching the referendum would take away from other activities that are part of the 2010 strategic plan. He wanted an inclusion in the staff report that details projects that will now have to be shelved to make way for the PH landfill referendum and follow up.
White stated in an email, "We want the money that is to be spent on trucking facilities to be spent on recycling facilities. Spending on compaction equipment rather than sorting equipment does not advance zero waste goals. The SCRD could best advance zero waste goals by leaving the landfill to provide the cheapest possible disposal of residuals while the waste stream winds down and spending the money saved on recycling facilities."
In a telephone interview, Dion Whyte, manager of sustainable services, listed his reasons for the need to close the PH landfill. He said, "The PH site is so close to capacity it is risky to expect that we would get a new system in place in time. If the decision is to enlarge the site then there is a lot of technical work required by the Ministry of Environment who has their own time line. It will be a challenge even with the time we have remaining."
According to Whyte the options in order of start-up costs are:
*Transfer /closure scenario - lowest cost
*Transfer station with compact equipment - most expensive
These costs change once operational according to Whyte and the transfer station with compacting becomes less expensive. (See the SCRD FAQ sheet for details : http://www.scrd.ca/files/File/Solid%20Waste/Pender-%20Waste%20Management%20Options-FAQ%20update-09-16-09(1).pdf )
Whyte also stated that if the PH landfill is closed it is required to be monitored for 25 years or more until the MOE is satisfied. The SCRD has been putting money aside annually for this closure expense.
When asked about leachate problems at the Sechelt landfill and whether that is a good option to truck PH residuals, Whyte admitted the Sechelt landfill has had elevated readings, " But at this point they are not attributed to landfill as there have been other uses on this site before." There is an attenuation zone assessment in process. $10,000 has been budgeted for this assessment.
Whyte also stated ,"That if there was an issue, we have to fix it and that would happen regardless of whether the PH waste is trucked to Sechelt or not."