Ahead of a sweeping overhaul of the Kitimat Landfill and solid waste management system, the district is intensifying its campaign for public awareness before finalising and adopting a pivotal bylaw Oct. 3.
The District’s Solid Waste Management Strategy and Action Plan (SWAP) was approved by council in 2020, in recognition of a system deemed deficient in its ability to divert and reduce landfill waste, and curb associated greenhouse gas emissions.
The design and operation of the landfill is decades behind most B.C. communities and is rapidly going through its three fill-area phases. The first was closed in 2018 and the second will be full to capacity in less than three years. But the landfill is not in compliance with new landfill criteria set out by B.C. Ministry of Environment, requiring liners and leachate collection systems, which means the district will not have the authority to use its landfill in Phase 3 without a significant investment on upgrades.
Four years ago the district employed environmental consultants Carey McIver and Associates to map out the best solution to bring the landfill into compliance, reduce the amount of trash going into it and develop a plan to pay for it.
Based on CMA’s report, council received a proposed bylaw amendment from staff Sept. 5 supporting the new strategy.
Council generally agreed on the efficacy of the plan, but debated at length on whether the district is moving too aggressively on a Oct. 1 roll out.
“These are big changes for people who are used to doing things a certain way,” said councilor Mario Feldhoff. “I think it’s a little fast.”
Councillor Michelle Martins, who sat on a Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine board for solid waste disposal, agreed but argued the broad scope of bylaw is a result of past inaction going back 30 years.
“It’s hard for me to fathom that this feels rushed when I have seen how stalled it’s been to get to this point. There were many missed opportunities to implement smaller, baby steps. We’re playing a game up catch-up now.”
From the user’s perspective, the biggest change at the landfill will be a new scale house and tipping fees based on weight. The district expects this will encourage less waste reaching the landfill, and also meet the goals of the district’s financial plan to recover costs from users of the facility rather than through property taxes exclusively.
Residential users will be given four free trips to the landfill each year. Beyond that, tipping fees will be phased in with loads of up to 100kg costing $5 in 2024, and $10 in 2025. Loads over 100kg will cost $50, effective Nov. 1, and $75 in 2024.
Commercially, tipping fees will move from volume based to weight based. Costs will vary with the type of waste, but will generally amount to $50 per tonne and will increase to $75 per tonne for 2024, $100 per tonne for 2025 and $110 per tonne for 2026.
Curbside, the plan also calls for the reduction of allowable garbage pickup next year from three cans to two every other week. Households needing more garbage collection will have to purchase a $3 tag for every additional can.
CMA noted that recent modernizing of curbside collection with the separation of garbage, recyclables and organics has significantly diverted of waste from the landfill by 47 per cent. District curbside collection of recyclables and organics also have one of the lowest contamination rates in the province. However, CMA cautioned this might be the result of low participation, as only 59 per cent of households set out garbage on collection day, only 48 per cent use the blue boxes and only 35 per cent set out green bins.
It’s hoped the introduction of tipping fees will encourage more residents to use curbside collection, increasing the separation of materials and reducing landfill waste in the process.
After extensive debate, council pushed the implementation date one month. Traffic will still be routed through the new scales once ready, but council is considering a slight delay in fee requirements to give the public a little extra time to adjust to the changes.
Council has since given the bylaw three readings, to be followed by two aggressive public awareness campaigns that will include flyer mailouts, social media posts and media advertising ahead of the bylaw’s adoption.
For a full list of rules and fees for the Kitimat Landfill visit kitimat.ca/en/our-community/landfill.aspx