Plan to transform landfill hits $16.4M roadblock
The City of Saskatoon’s ambitious plan to convert part of the municipal landfill into a waste-diversion facility known as a recovery park has hit a $16.4-million snag.
A city council committee heard this week that the total for required work at the current landfill and advancing the recovery park concept sits at $23.4 million, with only $7 million available.
“Oy, that’s frustrating,” Mayor Charlie Clark said at Monday’s environment, utilities and corporate services committee meeting.
The attempt to establish a recovery park to divert waste is ironically complicated by the need to expand operations at the landfill.
A city report considered by the committee revealed construction on a new cell for waste disposal will need to begin by 2020 because the current active cell will be full in three to four years. Building the new cell is expected to cost $8 million.
Preparing for the new cell, including the relocation of buildings at the landfill, is expected to cost $16 million. The new cell is slated to be built in an area currently occupied by waste drop-off, recycling and scales.
Initial work on a recovery park is expected to cost $7.4 million.
Council approved spending $7 million on a recovery park in 2017; a reserve fund was expected to help pay for the rest of the work. Unfortunately, that fund is in a deficit due to years of lower than expected revenue from the landfill.
The city administration is supposed to come up with a plan to pay for the work needed at the landfill by the middle of next year. The committee endorsed continuing to plan for a recovery park while the search for money continues.
“Our intent is to advance this as fast as we can,” said Jeff Jorgenson, the city’s acting general manager of corporate performance.
The recovery park is expected to include new scales, a space for recycling construction and demolition waste, a household hazardous waste collection depot, composting, recycling and a gently used item exchange.
The proposed park is one of several initiatives aimed at diverting more material from the landfill. Saskatoon has one of the worst diversion rates among major Canadian cities. In 2011, council approved a plan to try to extend the life of the landfill by 40 years.
The early cost estimate for closing the current landfill and building a new one is $126 million.
“This is a lot more stark than I think a lot of people realize,” Coun. Zach Jeffries said.
The city is also exploring a userpay approach for garbage collection. Coun. Troy Davies said he needs more information on the landfill’s future before he can vote on user fees.