Area residents have their say at public meeting on regional district’s proposed solid-waste plan
By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Electoral Area P
Closure of the Barnhartvale landfill and worries about illegal dumping highlighted a public meeting Wednesday night (Jan. 17, 2018) held to talk about the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s plans for handling garbage and recycling over the next 10 years.
About 40 people attended the meeting in the Sandman Centre, part of the consultation process as the TNRD works toward adoption of a new solid-waste management plan, expected this fall.
TNRD Chair John Ranta explained that solid-waste management, which costs more than $10 million a year, is one of the top two expenditures within the regional district’s budget.
The draft plan calls for a 20 per cent reduction of solid waste. TNRD environmental services manager Jamie Vieira said renewed emphasis will be put on recycling to achieve the goal.
“We’re very similar to the other Interior regional districts in terms of waste generation per capita,” he said.
He said the City operates its own solid-waste system but the plan is developed jointly between it and the TNRD.
Many of those at the meeting were Barnhartvale residents and quickly made their concerns known about the proposed closure of the landfill there in 2019.
A study upon which the plan is based says the landfill is reaching capacity, and that closing it would save the City $200,000 a year. Vieira said the final decision on the landfill will be up to City council after the TNRD and Minister of Environment approve the plan.
Residents objected to the prospect of having to drive to the Cinnamon Ridge or McGill Road composting sites to dispose of grass clippings and other garden waste.
One pointed out that burning gasoline to do that isn’t environmentally friendly. Another said Barnhartvale residents shouldn’t be treated like “second class citizens.”
“Please keep our Barnhartvale site as a transfer station and eco depot,” said another, who was told that’s a possibility.
Several in the audience feared closing the landfill would result in an increase in illegal dumping.
“If you close that landfill site I believe you’re asking for a lot more illegal dumping,” a resident told Ranta and the TNRD and City staff.
“Most members of the public want to follow the rules and obey the law,” said Ranta. “There have been some instances of illegal dumping in the past but it quickly diminishes.”
Some residents said they’ve contacted the TNRD about cases of illegal dumping but nothing has been done. Vieira replied that the regional district wants to be told about such situations.
“We clean up dozens, if not hundreds, of (illegal) dump sites every year.”
Recycling, especially plastics, was another concern. “Plastic is killing this world,” a resident said.
Vieira pointed out that soft plastics and glass are still accepted if they’re separated from other recyclables.
Disposal of food products, re-use of wood waste, bringing back drop ‘n’ shops, and anti-scavenging regulations were among other issues raised.
Vieira assured the meeting that the objective is to provide more ways to separate recyclables from garbage before it reaches the landfills.
The deadline for comments to be submitted to the tnrd.ca website, the TNRD Facebook page or on paper to libraries and municipal offices is Feb. 9.