SRD directors tout solid waste service as a leader on the Island

SRD supports city's proposal to study the feasibility of an Island-wide waste service but some directors have doubts

The Strathcona Regional District is supporting the City of Campbell River’s bid to study a possible Island-wide service to deal with garbage and waste.

Regional district directors endorsed the city’s resolution which will go before this spring’s  Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities (AVICC) convention for debate.

While all directors were in favour of undertaking the study, Area D Director Brenda Leigh wasn’t satisfied that the Comox Strathcona Waste Service would have much to gain from such a service.

“When I went to Nanaimo and attended the Island-wide discussion on solid waste, our waste function is so far ahead of the rest of the Island that what we would be taking on is a lot of other people’s costs who haven’t got as nearly as far as we have in building transfer stations and whatnot,” Leigh said. “I don’t mind studying it but I don’t think it would be a bonus to us to be on an Island-wide solid waste service – from what I heard in Nanaimo. They’ve got nothing in Mount Waddington and Duncan is shipping landfill waste to Washington State.”

But Director Larry Samson suggested that an Island-wide service could help those regional districts that are struggling.

“The Cowichan Valley is undergoing extreme hardship because of the (falling) Canadian dollar. They’re paying tonnage in American dollars and with the droppage we’ve seen, they’re experiencing hardship,” Samson said. “As we are one of the leaders on the Island, or we’re out in front, are we going into new territory that is costing us as we’re going through this multi-million dollar (solid waste service) financial plan? There may be savings if we go through it together. I think it’s time we got together as Vancouver Island.”

Director Charlie Cornfield agreed that there are most likely savings to be found if local governments on the Island band together. He also disagreed with Leigh that the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste service is ahead of the others.

“I think we’re far behind where we should be (and) I think there’s a lot to be gained by collaborating on the Island,” Cornfield said.

“The best run system is the Capital Regional District – they’ve been covering landfill gases for 10 years. At their recycling centre, you can drop off paint cans but you can also pick paint up.

“I think there’s a whole lot to be gained just by experience and collaboration and putting all those ideas together,” Cornfield said. “We’re an Island and we’re going to have disposal issues that no one else shares. We need to develop a system that’s tailored to our needs.”

Director Andy Adams agreed and said there may be a way “that is more cost effective than the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Plan currently is.”

Last summer, $2.1 million was spent to complete a 13-metre high retaining wall at the Campbell River dump to accommodate the entire region’s waste once construction on the new Comox Valley landfill begins. The subsequent closure of the Campbell River landfill will cost $10 million and additional costs are still on the horizon to develop landfill closure plans for the Gold River, Tahsis and Zeballos waste management centres and replace them with transfer stations.