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Sechelt landfill contractor costs double

Under the 10-year contract that expires this year, costs for 2022 were $377,000. A 12-month contract renewal with the same firm was approved at $783,596 as inflation on wages, fuel and other equipment costs see prices escalate.
A bird's view of the Sechelt Landfill.

The Sunshine Coast Regional District’s (SCRD) last contract for operations at Sechelt landfill was a 10-year agreement but its renewal, effective Dec. 1, will be for one year. 

'A whopper' of a price change

Staff recommended a shorter-term contract was recommended at the Nov. 24 committee of the whole meeting to provide time for assessment of what general manager of infrastructure services Remko Rosenboom called “reasonable long-term options” for landfill operations. For elected officials, another factor was what Area E director Donna McMahon characterized as “a whopper” of an operations contract increase from this year to next.

Under the past deal with contractor Sicotte Bulldozing, costs for 2022 were $377,000. The committee, and later that same day the board, decided to go with a 12-month contract renewal with the same firm valued at $783,596. Also included was an option to renew for a second year, and adjustments to the SCRD’s financial plan. 

Awarding the one-year deal at the increased annual cost will mean that tipping fee revenues will not cover 2023 contract costs. Based on a recommendation from staff, the board approved funding the $406,006 shortfall from taxation contributions to its solid waste function. Area D director Kelly Backs voted in opposition to the plan at both the committee and board levels.

Rosenboom told the committee at its meeting that the impacts of inflation on wages, fuel and other equipment costs were the price escalation culprits. He said that the cost indexing for future years in the deal inked in 2012 did not provide for adequate levels of expense increases for the contractor. 

Why a shorter contract was proposed

While SCRD staff handle front-end operations at the landfill, the contractor maintains the active area of the landfill by adding cover, compacting waste as well as maintaining site drainage and access roads.  In addition, snow removal, fire and litter control, handling and disposal of controlled waste and maintenance of the public drop-off areas are handled by Sicotte. 

A report to the committee stated that shorter-term contract approach was developed by staff after the SCRD called for bids for 2023 and future years' landfill operations. Rosenboom stated he was “shocked with the amount” proposed by the only compliant bidder. (He did not provide details on those amounts.) Rather than recommending a contract based on that bid, staff opted to negotiate with the current contractor for a shorter-term arrangement.  

Once that is in place, Rosenboom said that further assessment on long-term operational model for the landfill that is “viable, realistic, and more cost-effective” will be developed. A major component of that work will be review of a report on the potential extension of the landfill’s lifespan past 2025, which is slated to be received in early in the new year.

Options for future years' operation will be presented to the board for consideration in the second or third quarter of 2023, so that decision on extending the agreement with Sicotte or making changes can be made. 

Status quo at landfill in 2023

The Nov. 24 decisions will help ensure uninterrupted operations at the site. The report stated Sicotte “has provided good service to date and staff would be satisfied to continue their services until long-term solutions can be developed.”