By Alix Noble
The next phase in Whistler’s plan to cut garbage by 50 per cent will be to increase recycling bins and implement a blue-bag recycling program at condo and strata developments.
"Whistler is really doing a lot right now, we're pushing ahead aggressively with a recycling initiative," said municipal environmental engineer Brian Barnett.
The new program will be introduced in the next few weeks.
The focus on solid waste reduction comes from a provincial mandate that all communities reduce solid waste by 50 per cent by the year 2000. Regional districts were to submit a waste reduction plan by Dec. 21 1995. The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District has been granted a second extension on the plan until Oct. 28, 1996.
Extensions are not unusual for regional districts, said Mark Rowlands, solid waste management co-ordinator for the SLRD, and noted that this way the SLRD plan can learn from the mistakes of other communities.
"It's better in the long run," he said. "We've learned a lot since the deadline."
The delay stems from the "intent of developing a proper plan, not a quick and rushed one," said Barnett.
The sticky issue, according to Rowlands, is figuring out the contracts and financing for landfill closure and future garbage transport.
"The government mandated all this but didn't say how it needed to be done," he said.
Although the technical advisory committee of the solid waste plan has made financial recommendations to the SLRD board, said Barnett, "None of the expenses have been agreed to by the SLRD or municipalities."
The Whistler landfill will close sometime between the fall of 1997 and fall 1998, said Barnett. It will be phased out slowly; some areas are already closed. The SLRD, except for the Lillooet area, plans to ship residual waste by train to a landfill in Washington state. Rowlands said the SLRD is now working out the transport contract with Carney's Waste Disposal.
Transport is estimated to cost $521,000 more annually than the current local landfill system. Maintenance of the closed Whistler landfill will cost $22,000 a year. The logistics of financing need to be worked out between the SLRD and municipalities before submission of the plan on Oct. 28.
"How cost revenue is collected has not been finalised, but the cost to throw away garbage will go up," said Barnett.
Individuals and companies will likely be charged an increased tipping fee.
Whistler is also looking seriously at a composting facility, but it will not be implemented until later in the plan because the technology is changing so quickly, said Rowlands.
A draft of the solid waste management plan estimates food waste will make up 10 per cent of the garbage at Whistler by the year 2000.
No statistics are yet available on Whistler's trash reduction because of the complicated factors such as population growth and tourist fluctuation, said Barnett.