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Massive $2.1 million wall under construction at Campbell River dump

A crew from Jacob Brothers Construction works atop a retaining wall being built along Argonaut Road to expand the dump. The wall will allow the dump to accept waste for three more years while a new dump in Cumberland is being built. - Kristen Douglas/The Mirror
A crew from Jacob Brothers Construction works atop a retaining wall being built along Argonaut Road to expand the dump. The wall will allow the dump to accept waste for three more years while a new dump in Cumberland is being built.
— image credit: Kristen Douglas/The Mirror

An imposing wall under construction at the Campbell River landfill will extend the life of the dump, according to the Comox Strathcona Waste Management Service.

The wall extends the dump outward towards Argonaut Road in order to keep it going for three more years, until a new dump in Cumberland is built.

Tom Boatman, the manager of the solid waste service which serves both the Strathcona and Comox Valley regional districts, said the wall in Campbell River is vital because the existing Comox Valley landfill is expected to run out of space before the new one opens in Cumberland as the region’s only landfill.

“This wall is buying us the time,” Boatman said. “We need this to ensure that when we run out of space in Cumberland, we have landfill space here. This wall is very important so we can continue to provide the space we need to dispose of waste.”

The $2.1 million wall is expected to be complete in the next six to eight weeks and once complete will be 13 metres high. The wall will then be covered and the side of the wall that faces Argonaut Road will be planted with native plants to make it eye-catching. There will also be greenery planted along the top of the wall.

While the wall is intended to extend the life of the landfill, at the same time, the waste management service is also planning to close the Campbell River dump.

The entire shutdown is expected to cost $10 million and will be completed by 2018. It will involve covering the entire dump with polyethylene to seal off the landfill.

“For the $10 million we’re complying with the ministry (of Environment) standards for operating,” Boatman said. “It’s something we have to do.”

It will also mean a reduction of any impacts from leachate as water passes through the waste on the ground. Closing the dump will also be the equivalent of taking 7,000 vehicles off the road each year, according to Boatman.

“The waste in the landfill is emitting greenhouse gases and half of those gases are made up of methane,” he said. “It’s estimated that one pound of methane is equal to 20 pounds of CO2 (carbon dioxide).”

Closing Campbell River’s landfill was approved by the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste board (which includes Strathcona and Comox Valley regional district directors and some Campbell River councillors) more than a year ago. The decision was made to have one landfill – Cumberland’s – serve the entire Comox Strathcona region, which was the cheapest option presented to the board at just more than $175 million over 30 years. That’s expected to cost taxpayers $41 per year.

The other options were to expand just the Campbell River dump, which would have cost almost $190 million over 30 years or expand both facilities for more than $185 million.

But before the Cumberland dump is ready to serve the entire region, it will need to be re-lined and expanded.

Construction on closing 70 per cent of Cumberland’s dump is expected to begin next year while 70 per cent of Campbell River’s dump is slated for closure in 2016.

The wall in Campbell River, however, will ensure the landfill here can take in waste from both the Comox Valley and Campbell River area while the Cumberland dump is under construction.

Cumberland’s new landfill is expected to built in 2017 with construction expected to last one year.

“We’re anticipating commissioning it in 2018,” Boatman said. “And the entire new landfill is scheduled to last until 2037.”

The Cumberland landfill will be responsible for handling waste from transfer stations in Campbell River, Gold River, Tahsis, Zeballos and on Cortes and Hornby islands.

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