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Sechelt landfill expansion: top 'technical' option for Coast’s future garbage

If technical fit was the deciding factor to select a future Coast garbage disposal option, expansion of the existing landfill would be Tony Sperling of Sperling Hansen Associates recommendation to the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD).
Sechelt landfill (marked in yellow in the lower right corner) and sites in Area B considered for future Coast landfill locations.

If technical fit was the deciding factor to select a future Coast garbage disposal option, expansion of the existing landfill would be Tony Sperling of Sperling Hansen Associates recommendation to the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD).

But he and SCRD staff advised local elected officials that political considerations, permitting requirements and other questions need to be addressed before decisions on how to handle trash in the coming years get made. At a Jan. 25 committee meeting, area directors unanimously recommended the regional district continue with that work. If endorsed by the board in February, the next steps in determining what happens with local garbage when the existing dump site reaches capacity will include a detailed feasibility study for exporting waste off-Coast.

In support of those efforts, Area E director Donna McMahon stated when it comes to dealing with garbage, “It’s all relative to the cost of shipping because shipping waste off Coast gets very expensive very fast."

The committee also recommended discussions on solid waste disposal options with other local governments, First Nations, and the wider community be scheduled. Once input is received, the SCRD is to decide where local garbage will go and update the area’s Solid Waste Management Plan with the province.

Two expansion options at Sechelt Landfill

In the meeting’s presentation on the search for solid waste disposal options, Hansen stated the SCRD had “not a lot of time until your current landfill runs out of space." Documentation he and staff presented said the site is estimated to be filled by 2026, based on remaining volume and historic input levels. That could be extended to 2030 if emphasis on diverting materials is continued and a 2024 budget proposal to spend $520,000 on a contact water pond relocation is approved in current year Round 2 budget discussions (slated to begin Feb. 5).

The existing site could be expanded according to Sperling. He presented two alternatives: stacking waste higher by adding walls to the existing perimeter or growing the site by spreading into 38 acres of land immediately to the west. That adjacent property belongs to the shíshálh Nation. He estimated the westward expansion would cost in the $26.6 million range and could provide about 56 years of landfill capacity. While costs for the vertical expansion option haven’t been determined, he noted it is anticipated that work would add 20 years to the life of the landfill. A proposal to secure $165,000 to “refine the concept” of building a 10 metre high perimeter berm or wall on the south and west sides of the site is also on the Round 2 budget meeting agenda.

A complicating factor with both site expansion plans is the shíshálh Nation’s initial rejection of those proposed uses on their lands. SCRD staff broached those ideas for dump changes with the Nation last year and in an Aug. 28, 2023 letter (included on the meeting agenda), Nation council wrote, “These are not feasible options for a landfill on the Coast." It cited that the proposed landfill expansion would have “significant impacts” on the Nation and “was not in alignment” with its relationship agreement with Heidelberg Materials.

Area B siting options scored lower

Site investigation work done in 2023 by the consulting firm revealed that from the technical standpoint, adding capacity near the Sechelt landfill was preferable to developing a new waste storage site in the Halfmoon Bay area. In scoring out of 100 points, the two alternatives proposed near the existing landfill achieved numbers in the mid-70s while two Area B sites scored in the mid-50s. Rating were calculated based on 21 criteria, which included each site’s distance from population centres, road access, proximity to properly sized hydro power services, geological conditions, impacts on groundwater supplies and First Nations' interests.

The Area B sites that Sperling Hansen indicated had viability are both in the general area of Phare (formerly Wormy) Lake. They are identified as TT2, an 18-hectare parcel located about 14 kilometres off Highway 101 and TT4, a 12-hectare parcel just over five kilometres from the highway.

The consulting firm recommended four other locations in the Halfmoon Bay vicinity that were examined be removed from consideration as potential dump sites due to geotechnical conditions, impacts on watercourses, wildlife, recreation or First Nations interests.