The city is moving forward with developing a regional compost facility in Campbell River after council confirmed its support for locating the venue at the city’s Norm Wood Environmental Centre.
The city has been pushing to have the organics centre operate out of Campbell River for several years. The city got its wish when the Comox Strathcona Waste Management board, which is made up of Comox Valley and Strathcona regional district directors, recently made the decision to support locating the facility at the Norm Wood site.
At its May 23 meeting, Campbell River Coun. Charlie Cornfield said he was thrilled the board came to that decision.
“I think this is a great thing,” Cornfield said. “This is the first major infrastructure investment north of the Oyster River for the (Waste Management) service and I think it’s very exciting for the community and puts us on cutting edge.”
Cornfield noted that because the facility would serve not only the Campbell River area but also the Comox Valley, the benefits are far-reaching, particularly in that it will help divert waste from the landfill in Cumberland which is being expanded to serve Campbell River once the landfill here, which is nearing capacity and has been functioning as a transfer station, is officially closed.
“It benefits the Comox Valley and reduces the amount of solid waste that will be going into the new landfill in Cumberland which is where our other garbage will be going, so I think this is really a good news story.”
Mayor Andy Adams echoed those sentiments.
“I whole-heartedly agree and want to extend appreciation to staff for working on this and to city councillors who sit on the regional solid waste for advocating strongly for this initiative to be partnered at the Norm Wood Environmental Centre,” Adams said.
The organics facility is intended to remove food from the waste stream and in the process, help the Solid Waste Management Service meet its target of a 70 per cent diversion rate from the region’s landfills by the year 2022.
It’s believed that diverting organics from the landfill helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, specifically methane gas, generated by organic material decomposing in the landfill.
For the City of Campbell River, it could also stand to benefit in another way.
Having a compost facility located at Norm Wood may not only allow for composting of organics but also potentially help the city treat its biosolids.
Pending ministry of environment approval, such a move could save the city up to $3 million by not having to replace the digester at the Norm Wood Environmental Centre which handles the city’s waste.
In the meantime, city staff will be busy working to implement a new curbside pick up program for Campbell River households.
“With the new facility comes the need for the City of Campbel River, along with the municipalities of the Comox Valley, to commence curbside organic collection,” said Drew Hadfield, the city’s transportation manager. “This will require of the municipalities to institute a curbside organics program. This will see that addition of a food waste stream in the Campbell River area and the associated reduction of this produce in the garbage stream.”
Hadfield said that the cost burden associated with dumping may be lifted slightly if the tipping fee at the organics facility is less than that charged at the landfill. But, Hadfield noted, there will be a cost to the city at the outset as it attempts to shift its focus.
“The commitment to an organics program comes at a future cost to waste management services for the city,” Hadfield said. “This will see a shift from the current three streams (solid waste, recycling and yard waste) to a reduction in solid waste (estimated 30 to 35 per cent), changing to the yard waste to an organic collection (pre/post-consumer waste and yard waste) and recycling.”
Construction of the facility is being funded through a $5.5 million federal and provincial grant, with the remaining $2.77 million being paid for by the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Service.