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Landfill’s days are numbered

The Whistler landfill is closing next year, forcing the resort to ship its garbage out of town.

Council approved a decision to close the landfill in 2005 at Monday’s council meeting. This follows an earlier council decision to put the 2010 Athletes Village in the Lower Cheakamus, beside the existing landfill.

Municipal staff are preparing to enter into a short-term export contract with Cache Creek, which is the only major inter-regional landfill in B.C. and the same landfill that accepts waste from the Greater Vancouver Regional District.

Cache Creek was chosen over several export options including the Rabanco Landfill in Washington and the Squamish Landfill. Exporting garbage to Cache Creek will drive up Whistler’s costs for disposing of its waste by 20 per cent.

Had Whistler chosen to expand its landfill the cost for disposal would have been $96 per tonne. This compares to the export cost to Cache Creek of $140 per tonne.

Brian Barnett, general manager of engineering and public works with the municipality, assured council the export contract with Cache Creek would be short-term. This will allow Whistler to review its export options in the future.

For example, Squamish is looking to expand and upgrade their landfill but that may only be feasible if Whistler commits to send its garbage there.

The municipality is currently preparing to construct a temporary transfer station at the landfill and will aim to have a permanent transfer station by 2006.

In the meantime, staff is also investigating the option of building a community heating plant as a way of getting rid of solid waste.

Essentially a solid waste incineration plant could create electricity and energy to heat water, which would then be distributed to radiators in residential units. This technology could be used to heat the Athletes Village.

The feasibility study on the community heating system will be complete in December.

The site of the current landfill could be used as green space or eventually turn into playing fields in the years to come.