Talking trash

Landfill near Cranbrook may soon be collecting garbage from the Elk Valley, under an agreement up for discussion at RDEK board meeting

Garbage from the Elk Valley may soon be disposed of in the landfill near Cranbrook, under a new agreement proposed by Regional District of East Kootenay directors.

Until now, Elk Valley garbage has been transferred to a landfill in Pincher Creek, Alberta, at a cost of $63.35 per tonne.

The Elk Valley generates about 9,000 tonnes of waste each year, which equates to about one 53-foot tractor trailer a day, five or six days a week, according to Board Chair Rob Gay.

“The waste is residential and commercial — it’s the same as Central where there is no heavy industrial coming from the Elk Valley,” added Gay.

Bringing that waste to the Central Landfill, located near Cranbrook, would reduce the landfill’s life span from 94 years to 71 years, meaning space would be used up in about 2084, according to the regional district’s environmental services department.

To make up for that reduction in the lifespan, Gay proposed two measures.

First, that the Elk Valley would be charged a “fair disposal fee” that would let residents of the Central subregion — Cranbrook, Kimberley, Jaffray, Wasa and nearby communities — have a tax break.

Second, part of the fee collected from the Elk Valley would go into a reserve fund to let the regional district explore “future diversionary initiatives” for the garbage.

“That reserve fund would really allow us to look at a number of innovative ways to reduce burying as much garbage as we do,” explained Chair Gay.

Cranbrook City Council held a special meeting so that board members Mayor Wayne Stetski and Councillor Bob Whetham could find out how council felt about the issue.

“We passed a motion very similar to the one that has been proposed,” said Mayor Stetski.

“That fund potentially could be used for everything from curbside recycling, composting, or potentially collecting that money to provide incentive to build an energy complex where we would burn garbage and create energy,” Mayor Stetski said. “This fund would accumulate and be used to benefit the Central subregion in a number of different ways.”

Now Elk Valley directors will take the proposal to their own councils to decide whether to accept it or continue taking their trash to Alberta.

In the process, all of the directors will come up with a fair fee per tonne for accepting the garbage at the Central landfill.

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