City looking for residents to talk trash with them
Local residents are rarely shy when it comes to trashtalking the City on issues like curbside garbage pick-up and blue-bin recycling.
Yet, given the chance to talk trash at the City of Moose Jaw’s public solid waste consultation held recently, only 10 people made the effort to attend. The good news for interested Moose Javians is that they still have a chance to be involved in the consultation process.
“A big part of these consultation processes — to make sure that the plan works for the community — is to make sure we get a lot of public feedback,” said Lauren Quan, project engineer for Tetra Tech, an international engineering consulting firm that has been working with the City for a little over a year. “It’s incredibly important for residents to provide feedback to the City. The only way that the City can know what people want is for the people to tell them. There are a lot of options for very expensive infrastructure that you could build, but then if no one is going to use it, it’s just a waste. “We want to have a good understanding of what the priorities are of the community,” Quan continued. “So that means when we’re making decisions about programs — pining them against each other and figuring out what to invest in — how should the City make that decision and what should they prioritize within those decision-making processes. Ultimately, what we’re working towards is developing a framework so decisions can be made now, but also in eight or 10 years. We want to make sure that there is enough of a framework so decisions can be consistent as they are made throughout the years.”
The City is creating a Solid Waste Management Master Plan (SWMMP) and are looking for guidance from the public. Both the City and the consultants stressed that at this stage thay are taking in information and trying to discern what the priorities are of the community. External stakeholders like the Chamber of Commerce, the school divisions, the Dr. F.H. Wigmore Hospital, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and haulers like Loraas, Waste Management and Crown Shred & Recycling Inc. are also part of the information gathering at this stage.
The consultation is focused on six main areas: recycling, composting, waste reduction, disposal, collection and education/communication. “The master plan is a document that will help the City to essentially plot a course of action for the next 5-10 years to figure out what kind of infrastructure, what kind of programs make sense for the City to invest in and ultimately what the City can do to best service the residents of the community,” Quan said.
In addition to the Thursday meeting, the City engaged the public at the Moose Jaw Warriors hockey game the following night. A public online survey is available on the City’s website allowing all residents an opportunity to provide feedback on the future of solid waste management in the city over the next couple of weeks before the results are compiled in December.
One of the main reasons for the consultation is the fact that the landfill will reach the end of its life-cycle within 3-5 years. Commercial garbage is the main factor in the amount of garbage that ends up in the landfill from year to year and prone to large fluctuations as factors like a big demolition job — say the tearing down of Union Hospital for example — can change how much goes into a landfill.
“Residential waste stays pretty steady around 10,000 tonnes a year,” Quan said. “Commercial fluctuates quite a lot. It depends on whether other municipalities are bringing waste here, how much economic activity there is. It often depends on if there’s a really big demolition project — if a big building is being demolished that tends to create a little bit of a spike.”
While they are confident in their ballpark 3-5-year estimate, a more precise long-term projection is hard to pin down with so many variables.
“There are definitely methods to extend the life of landfills to a certain extent, but this landfill is quite close to the end of its life,” Quan said. “So, it’s a question of if it makes sense to make an investment now to try to squeeze out an extra couple of years or does it make sense to move to a new facility that will be more efficient that will be larger which could be a regional facility and can be built to best practices; because this one was built quite a long time ago.”
Quan explained that modern landfills build smaller cells that last for approximately five years at a time. That makes them easier to manage — compared to a massive hole that will have water pooling in it — and more economical, allowing a municipality to budget and build the landfill in stages over a century rather than being one massive infrastructure project.
Modern landfills are lined with a clay liner or other geo-synthetic materials. The water moves from the top to the bottom and collects the contaminants in the garbage as it passes — which is called leachate. It is then collected at the bottom by the liner and then pulled out and treated via pipes. Modern landfills are also better able to monitor the gasses that can be trapped in a landfill and pulled to the side that can then be combustible.
The current landfill doesn’t have any of those modern environmental considerations and is therefore going to be more difficult to manage even after it closes. “The site is about 100 years old. It has no clay or geo-synthetic liner system. It is very much a legacy site. It is very much a risky site, requiring mediation and risk-control decades into the future,” said Darrin Stephanson, manager of utilities at the City.
As landfills become more highly regulated in the province, more rural communities are finding it is preferable for them to ship their garbage. At the local landfill, there is a $20/tonne premium tipping fee for out-of-community garbage. Local garbage is subject to a $69/tonne tipping fee as opposed to $89/tonne for out of town. There is also the option of looking into creating a regional landfill that may service multiple communities, but that could also result in a longer hauling distance for area companies and Moose Jaw citizens.
“There was some indication that the regional landfill — given the haul distances — would maybe be the preferred choice, but that’s high-level. The step in the process we are in is: what do we want to do with the waste? It’s fine to say ‘landfill’ but there’s a whole spectrum of options that you can do to manage your waste. That’s the discussion we’re trying to have at this stage. Get that information, compile it and form a long-term plan,” said Josh Mickleborough, director of engineering for the City. The City’s online survey is available at http://surveys.insightrix.com/moosejawwastesurvey.
“A big part of these consultation processes - to make sure that the plan works for the community - is to make sure we get a lot of public feedback,”