Budget Committee to Reserve Landfill by Reducing Non-Local Waste
It was a bit of a Johnny Paycheck moment when Council’s Budget Committee discussed out of area commercial garbage ending up in the Moose Jaw landfill. And the theme was “take your long distance commercial trash and shove it, we don't want you dumping it here no more.”
The theme came about as Councillor Brian Swanson introduced a motion to set up two-tier pricing for local and non-local solid waste ending up in the Moose Jaw landfill.
“Personally, myself, I want to extend the life of the current landfill and not fill it as fast as possible because of our thirst for revenues,” Swanson said, adding that he wanted to see the City “restrict the dumping of commercial waste from outside of Moose Jaw.”
Swanson said, in five years, the costs for residential waste disposal have risen from $641,188 to $1,855,000. Plus, Swanson said in the past that Council had been told commercial waste was subsidizing the costs of residential waste disposal. The $1,855,000 cost Swanson quoted is based upon $955,000 for solid waste (green bin) and $900,000 for recycling (blue bin). The utility is run on a cost recovery basis.
A previous rate of $40 per tonne, for commercial waste, was found as not sufficient for cost recovery to process it. Last year, the rate was increased to $60 per tonne to recover costs, as well as to keep commercial waste from being trucked from Saskatoon to Moose Jaw, the Budget Committee was told in a previous day long meeting.
Swanson said there was suppose to be a “two-tier system we were going to be adopting five years ago.”
Josh Mickleborough, Director of Engineering replied “I don't know off of the top of my head if it's a legitimate idea. I don't know how widely it's used (a two-tier pricing system).”
Mickleborough explained that the Province had been moving towards a regional landfill system with it's regulatory procedure.
Councillor Swanson responded “Moose Jaw has said, with open arms, bring your waste to Moose Jaw…incurring costs of millions of dollars.”
Earlier in the discussion surrounding the landfill, Councillor Chris Warren had asked why there was such a large amount needed ($436,000) to meet the requirement to cover the landfill for just another two days.
City Works Manager Darrin Stephanson replied “I guess we are airing our dirty laundry; we were violating our permit…(and only been covering) 1.5 to two days equivalent.”
Under the previous regulations, Moose Jaw was required to cover dumping areas three times a week. In a recent audit, the City was caught in non-compliance and under the new regulations must cover five times a week. The City had a new six month permit issued to operate the landfill on December 21, 2017.
Mickleborough stated that the funds were necessary or the solid waste utility “would be forced to go over budget…or we violate regulations and of course the Province has given us an audit once already.”
The City Engineer stated the $436,000 was a “best estimate” as to what is required to comply with the new regulations. The estimate is based on $1250 per tonne for the 35,000 tonnes required to comply.
Asked whether the work could be done in-house, Mickleborough stated we “just didn't have the time and (we are) in violation of regulations and this is us addressing it.”
Another major problem discussed with a two-tier commercial rate system, was how to tell who was local and who was non-local, when dumping waste. “It's going to be tough to tell what and where it all comes from,” Mickleborough said.
The present landfill site is not situated in an ideal location. The base is not clay and a major leak of liquid organic wastes has occured. Contaminating an area outside the landfill. The leak will cost an unknown amount to clean up. Budget Committee had been previously been told this on January 13th.
Due to the non-ideal location of the landfill, Mickleborough told the Budget Committee that "there will be more costs at our (present) site in the long term."
It needs to be noted that the problems with the current landfill pre-date both Mickleborough’s and Stephanson’s combined tenure with the City.
A quick look at other communities commercial rates showed Moose Jaw is somewhere in the middle, and that Yorkton has a two-tier (local and non-local) commercial rate structure.
It was revealed that Moose Jaw currently did have a two-tier rate system of $60 local and $79 for non-local. But it was difficult to enforce.
Mayor Frasier Tolmie stated that most local people hauling commercial waste would have familiar faces and others, whom staff are not familiar with, should be forced to show identification proving they are local landfill users. Mayor Tolmie also moved that the out-of-town rate be increased from $79 to $89 per tonne. A rate which was agreed upon but can also be increased later.
The recommendation passed, with Mayor Tolmie, Councillors Mitchell, Froese and Warren in favour, and Councillors Luhning and Swanson opposed. This included increasing the the elevation of the present landfill to 577m to allow for five more years of operation and funds to begin recycling broken residential garbage bins.
The Budget Committee can decide to alter this vote upon reviewing the entire budget. Also the decision is not finalized until the budget it is approved by City Council.