Environment committee: City has power to reject proposed landfill expansion

City council should do everything in its power to stop Upland Excavating from expanding its landfill to accept non-hazardous solid waste, according to a report done for the Campbell River Environment Committee.

Matt Hulse, an articling student from the University of Victoria, told council that the city should act to prevent a proposed soil remediation facility that some environmentalists fear will impact the city’s drinking watershed.

“Putting a large quantity of toxins in a landfill on top of an aquifer that feeds local rivers and drinking water does not make sense from an environmental or public health perspective,” Hulse said at council’s May 24 meeting. “Fortunately, the City of Campbell River can prevent this from happening. It’s the right thing to do and you do indeed have the legal authority to do so.”

Hulse, who developed a report on the potential impacts of Upland’s landfill proposal on behalf of the Campbell River Environmental Committee, said the city can use its zoning bylaw to stop the expansion even if the province approves Upland’s Operational Certificate application.

Upland has submitted a waste discharge application to the Ministry of Environment for an Operational Certificate to accommodate a landfill on Upland-owned lands at 7295 Gold River Highway that would treat and deposit up to 500,000 cubic metres of non-hazardous solid waste.

But Hulse said, in his opinion, the proposal violates the protection Upland’s existing landfill has been given as a non-conforming use.

Under a section of the Local Government Act, Upland’s existing landfill is protected even though it is operating on property that is not properly zoned to accommodate a landfill. Hulse said that protection, however, is no longer valid if the non-conforming use is expanded.

“It is apparent from the proposed landfill design plan and with the map in the original permits and from observation of Upland Excavating’s activities on the property that the landfill footprint is going to increase,” Hulse said. “It is also evident the proposed landfill will accept significantly more material than the existing landfill.”

Hulse said the proposed landfill is expected to accept construction, demolition and land-clearing materials, including asbestos while the existing landfill accepts inert municipal waste, stumps, trees and land clearing waste.

Hulse argued that an increase in the amount of accepted materials, as well as two new uses on the property associated with the landfill – an aeration pond and an infiltration pond – puts the proposal on a scale, or to an extent or degree, greater than the existing landfill.

“This means that the proposed landfill would not continue as a non-conforming use and it would not be protected from the zoning bylaw and therefore could be prohibited from operating by your bylaw,” Hulse told council. “It makes it sufficiently different in kind from the existing landfill and therefore no longer a non-conforming use.”

Hulse prepared his report on the Upland landfill proposal on behalf of the Campbell River Environmental Committee which is concerned about the landfill’s proximity to Rico and McIvor lakes, which are connected to the city’s drinking water system.

Leona Adams, a member of the Environmental Committee, has said the proposed waste landfill site straddles a large aquifer, which is hydraulically connected to Rico and McIvor lakes.

Upland representatives have said numerous times that safety components will be built in to the system to ensure the city’s drinking water is not threatened.

“Our design will entail a completely double lined containment, no material can spill outside or be deposited outside of the liner, water cannot spill out or drain off onto unlined ground and cannot flow uphill into McIvor or Rico Lake,” Terry Stuart of Upland wrote in a letter to the Mirror last month. “The water treatment facility, as well, cannot overflow onto the ground.”

Stuart also acknowledged that Upland has been in business in Campbell River since 1969 and since that time, has always been committed to environmental excellence.

“It is for this reason a comprehensive site investigation has been completed, generating a technical assessment report, hydrogeology and hydrology characterization reports, geological studies to confirm neither ground water or surface water will be impacted,” Stuart told the Mirror Tuesday. “A voluntary public consultation plan and subsequent report was also completed to understand the concerns of the community.”

Stuart said Upland recognizes the University of Victoria Law Centre for “all the great work they do in communities” and said Upland wants to continue to work with the community.

“Upland Excavating has always had a positive relationship with the community and invites any interested parties, including the Campbell River Environmental Committee, to contact us to find out more and visit the site,” Stuart said.

Upland can be reached at 250-286-1148.