Thursday, 16 November 2017 06:41

Council approves disposal rate increases at Swift Current east and west landfill sites

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Some disposal rates at the City of Swift Current’s east and west landfill sites will increase on Jan. 1.


Councillors approved the new disposal fees at a regular council meeting, Nov. 6. City General Manager of Infrastructure and Operations Mitch Minken noted the fee structure for this utility is aimed at achieving full cost recovery.
“Solid waste rates are established at a level to ensure sufficient revenues are generated to cover all expenses related to both the operating and the capital costs within the solid waste utility,” he said.
The landfill rates have only been established for a single year, because the City is currently undertaking a financial analysis of the solid waste utility to determine all the costs associated with the landfill operations.
“These costs include the development and decommissioning of both the east and west landfills and the operating costs of both landfills,” he mentioned. “Once this analysis is complete, the landfill disposal rates for 2019 and beyond will be determined.”
Regulations for the operation of landfill sites have become stricter in recent years, and compliance requires additional expenses to make upgrades at the sites.
“With the changes to the regulations there's a number of things that we have to do,” he said. “We need to make improvements to the slope grading at the landfill, which is softening the slope or making it more gradual. We have to make improvements to the drainage system and control our leachate. These are all improvements that we have to make that are costing us a little bit more money these days. So we need to increase the rates to make sure we recover those costs.”
Another expense for the City was the completion of construction in October of a new pit for the disposal of hazardous asbestos material. A second asbestos pit is required because the existing disposal pit, which was constructed at the west landfill in 2013, is almost full.
“Through all the demolition and all the activity around, it's become full,” he explained. “So it was time to get a second pit, which we completed this fall. Of course, new pit and new rates associated with it so we can recover the cost of building that pit originally, maintaining it and then eventually decommissioning it.”
The City’s asbestos disposal pit receives material from communities across southwest Saskatchewan, which contributed to the rate at which the pit filled up.
“There’s a lot of demolition,” he said. “The first step in all the demolitions is to go in and remove the hazardous material. For certain ages buildings, built in the fifties usually, there's a lot of asbestos in them. So it needs to be removed, and that's what needs to get there.”
The new asbestos pit is slightly larger than the existing one, but it is difficult to predict how long it will be in use before it will be full.
“It may last longer, it may not,” he said. “You don't want to make them oversized either. You build it for what you expect and then if it's four, five years from now we'll dig another one. We have the space on the site.”
According to Minken there will be increasingly a movement towards regional landfill sites due to stricter environmental regulations, and the province has been encouraging this approach of a landfill that serves an entire region and not only a single community.
“It's becoming more and more difficult for the smaller towns and villages to operate their landfills,” he said. “So a lot of what's happening is they're decommissioning their landfills, shutting them down, building transfer stations and then bringing their waste to larger centres such as ours.”
Recent studies have been conducted for the City to provide information for decisions that will be taken on the operation of landfill sites.
“[For] our east landfill, we just got a study finished about two years ago that give us the roadmap where we are for the future,” he said. “We have a municipal waste cell ready to go at our west landfill and we're continuing to study and look at how that fits into the opportunity for regionalization. So over 2018 and into 2019 we're going to be looking at those opportunities and how we might fit into the bigger picture of the southwest. … We receive waste from a number of the smaller communities within about an hour or so of travel distance and even beyond that right now at our east landfill.”
The City’s landfill sites accept a variety of materials, but over 90 per cent of revenues are generated from residential or commercial waste.
For 2018 the disposal charge for small loads of regular residential waste will remain the same at a $10 flat rate for cars, pickup trucks and small utility trailers.
The disposal charge for regular commercial waste will increase from the current $70 per tonne to a new rate of $80 per tonne.
The current charge of $60 per tonne for clean wood disposal will remain the same as an incentive for people to separate the wood from regular waste.
The City uses this wood for its wood chipping program.
The disposal rates for concrete and asphalt will not change, but the asbestos disposal rate will increase from $100 per tonne in 2017 to $125 per tonne in 2018. The cover fees for asbestos disposal will also increase from the current range of $60 to $240 per load to a range of $100 to $300 per load.

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Matthew Liebenberg

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