Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) directors are facing a host of decisions that will change how garbage is collected, diverted and disposed of, including a change in the anticipated Sechelt landfill closure date.
Instead of closing in 2027, the Sechelt landfill is now expected to reach capacity by 2025. The finding was in a new design, operation and closure plan submitted to the BC Ministry of Environment by SCRD hired consultants at the end of 2017.
The tighter timeframe will lead to an estimated shortfall of $3.5 million in “closure contributions” – tax money set aside yearly to fund the landfill’s eventual closure.
To offset the shortfall, directors at a Feb. 22 committee meeting recommended raising taxes incrementally over the next four years – including 2018 – to bring in an extra $125,000 annually. That could still leave “a small potential shortfall,” according to the report.
Tina Perreault, chief financial officer did note that diversion could change the closure date, which complicates financial forecasting. “What we’ve seen in the past number of years is there are variabilities.”
The consultants attribute the change in closure dates to the discovery that already closed areas were not filled to capacity. SCRD staff are investigating options to increase capacity, and plans to find a new landfill site are also in the works.
“It’s quite alarming to see we’ve lost anther two years,” said Ian Winn, director for West Howe Sound. He raised concerns that there won’t be enough money going into the reserve to cover the estimated million-dollar increase in the landfill’s closure and post-closure liability.
Other options included implementing a parcel tax and increasing tipping fees.
Winn and Frank Mauro, director for Pender Harbour and Egmont agreed that taxation is the best means of covering the cost rather than a parcel tax. Bruce Milne, director for District of Sechelt also supported increasing taxes, with some reservations. “I see that as a cultural norm of the board, hoping things might change and not addressing the full brunt of what we’re doing all the time.”
He also said any time parcel tax is proposed as an option he will vote against it.
The decision on how to pay for the closure will be reflected in round two of the 2018 budget.
At the same committee, directors also recommended an increase in tipping fees – which are already among the highest in the province – for diverted materials, such as mattresses, propane tanks, roofing, wood and commercial green waste, to cover the increasing cost of diversion. Changes will take effect June 1, 2018 if the board approves.
Commercial green waste fees could increase the most, nearly doubling from $45 to $86.
“The downside of course of increasing tipping fees, is that we’ll see more illegal dumping, especially with materials like gypsum and mattresses,” said Winn. Residents of Halfmoon Bay, Roberts Creek, Elphinstone and West Howe Sound could also see changes to their garbage collection services. The current contract expires in February 2019.
The committee recommended new contracts should see garbage collected on a bi-weekly basis, organic waste collected weekly, and recycling collected bi-weekly. Elphinstone director Lorne Lewis opposed the option. “In Elphinstone I do not get asked for curbside. I do get asked for a more comprehensive depot.”
Halfmoon Bay Director Garry Nohr said his constituents want action on recyclables. “There’s a tremendous amount of seniors who don’t have pick up trucks or other things that could use the facilities properly. Most people organize their trips to Sechelt, not necessarily to buy groceries but to drop things off at Salish Soils… please, give my community recyclables.”