Significant tax increase required to pay for solid waste services

Campbell River homeowners can expect to see a significant tax increase for solid waste services when they receive their property tax notices for 2017.

The hike is part of a five-year plan that includes several expensive capital projects related to the closure of landfills and a new engineered landfill and leachate treatment system.

In order to meet its obligations, the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste board has approved a plan to increase the tax requisition to $4 million in 2017, and in 2018, to $6 million – the level projected to be maintained for the remainder of the five year plan.

A hand out provided by Director Michele Babchuk to the Strathcona Regional District board shows that using a base average of $300,000 for a Campbell River home, that taxes for solid waste will be $58.11 per household in 2017.

That would rise to $87.15 in 2018 and stay at that threshold for the years 2019 and 2020.

That’s compared to a rate of $10.56 in 2015 for solid waste services and $29.04 in 2016.

James Mathers, senior manager of Comox Strathcona Waste Management services, said the main source of revenue for the service is taxes and tipping fees which have also been on the rise.

Mathers said those fees are now “at a point considered to be the industry maximum in British Columbia for solid waste tipping fees.”

Revenue from tipping fees for 2016 is projected to come in at $9.16 million and at $9.2 million in 2017.

Revenue from tipping fees and taxes is being put towards a new engineered and expanded landfill in Cumberland (and the closure of the existing waste management centre) as well as the eventual closure of the Campbell River Waste Management Centre landfill.

In 2017, $200,000 has been budgeted for detailed designs for the Cumberland landfill closure to ensure that the remaining 30 per cent of the landfill is closed by the third quarter of 2018. A further $2.5 million is budgeted in 2018 for construction of that closure, expected to get underway in early 2018.

At the same time, construction on the new Cumberland landfill is expected to get underway, with $7.7 million budgeted in 2017 for a leachate treatment facility design (scheduled for completion in March), followed by construction and commissioning of the leachate treatment facility, which is slated to be completed by December of this year.

Once functional, the new Cumberland landfill will serve the entire Comox Strathcona region.

In Campbell River, moves continue to be made towards closure of the landfill here – a process that involves covering the entire dump with polyethylene to seal off the landfill. In 2017, $250,000 is budgeted for updating the design and closure plan, as well as for development of a strategy to deal with landfill gas collection.

Mathers said those plans are expected to come back to the solid waste service in the first quarter of this year.

“Feedback from the MoE (Ministry of Environment) and recommendations from the engineering consultant will set the path for proceeding with future closure of the landfill and the installation of the landfill gas collection system,” Mathers said.

A further $3.15 million is budgeted in 2018 while $6.2 million and $3.57 million has been allocated in 2019 and 2020 respectively for the Campbell River closure.

“The preliminary financial plan includes a phased closure approach, however work completed in 2017 will determine if the CRWMC (Campbell River Waste Management Centre) can be closed as a single project in 2021,” Mathers said. “The final strategy for the CRWMC landfill will be determined once feedback is provided from MoE.”

In the meantime, $390,000 (spread over the years 2018 and 2019) has been allocated for each of the landfill closures in Sayward and on Cortes Island while $886,936 is earmarked for a land purchase in Zeballos to open a new transfer station to eventually replace the Zeballos landfill which is slated for closure in 2021 at a cost of $80,000.

A total of $210,000 has also been allocated for a land purchase in Tahsis to build a transfer station in that community.