The City of Campbell River is weighing in on proposed changes to the operating conditions of a landfill located near the city’s water supply that are being considered by the province.
In August 2019, Upland Excavating Ltd. was granted approval from the province to expand a landfill located at 7295 Gold River Highway.
The province’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is now considering approving amendments to the landfill’s operational certificate.
Among the changes are allowing the landfill to start accepting an expanded range of soil types, including contaminated soil exceeding industrial quality standards. This includes any soils not classified as “hazardous waste” under provincial regulation.
This led the Campbell River Environmental Committee (CREC) to raise concerns about the changes in a February 2022 letter to the Ministry as well as in correspondence with the city. In response, Campbell River city staff recommended city council respond to the Ministry about the amendments, including expressing concern about the changes in soil type that could be stored at the facility.
During the March 7 Campbell River city council meeting, the motion to do so passed 4-3, with councillors Kermit Dahl, Sean Smyth, and Ron Kerr voting in opposition.
“They are requesting that it be made open to the full range of industrial standard, which changed significantly what potential materials could be brought in and put in the landfill,” said Coun. Charlie Cornfield, in the meeting. “I have no problem with including the soil types that are already authorized, but have considerable concern about going to the top end of the standard.”
Another issue with the amendment is the construction of a proposed leachate (water that has passed through landfill) storage area. Council’s motion also included a request to design this structure to withstand a 200-year storm event, a change Cornfield said would recognize the realities of climate change.
“I believe we used the 100-year in the Pigeon Lake Landfill when it was constructed, and five of us sit on the board of that one, and now it’s requiring another build of additional leachate storage…,” he said. “I think it’s important given climate change and the amount of rainfall we’re getting and what is being predicted, that 200-year flood event is probably a better design level…”
The third ask by the city is to add water and sediment monitoring in Rico Lake, which is adjacent to McIvor Lake.
“That way it can be monitored for any impacts, if any, and does two points: make sure that our water stays clean, and it would also absolve them (Upland) of responsibility if there is no change due to the landfill,” said Cornfield.
CREC president Leroy McFarlane applauded council’s decision in an interview.
“We just want the best possible outcome, and what we were pleased to see is the city taking the best possible actions and concerns they can for the water quality of our drinking water,” said McFarlane. “They’re saying, ‘let’s make this a priority.’”