City look­ing for res­i­dents to talk trash with them

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News - Matthew Gourlie Lau­ren Quan, project en­gi­neer for Te­tra Tech, speaks at “Let’s Talk Trash”, the City’s solid waste pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion. Matthew Gourlie pho­to­graph

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,”

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