Solid waste reviews now underway 

SLRD looking at future of area landfills

The regional district is getting a two-year head start on reviewing the future of solid waste in the area.

"There are a number of issues in the south that have come up over the last year or two," said Dave Allen, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District manager of utilities and community services.

"We’re not required to start this review process until 2004 (but) we’re going to start looking at trying to do it earlier than that."

Two resolutions were passed at the SLRD board meeting on Monday.

The first would see the creation of a Southern Regional Technical Advisory Committee (SRTAC), which would immediately begin the review process to allow Squamish to extend the life of its sanitary landfill.

The second resolution would allow the SRTAC to begin a cursory examination of budgets and scope for the required review of the SLRD Solid Waste Management Plan.

The Solid Waste Management Plan was first approved in November 1999. It must be reviewed every five years.

Recent developments have spurred on this early review process.

The Compost Feasibility Study completed earlier this year gave the green light for centralized composting in the south. The study reported that at the very least 17 per cent of organic waste could be diverted from area landfills.

And there is the potential for quite a bit more said Allen, as residents slowly get used to composting and become more educated.

He estimates that up to 30 per cent can be diverted.

The study put certain limitations on composting in the south. For example, it would not be reasonable to expect curbside collection of organic food waste in Whistler, which would attract bears and other wildlife.

But it would be feasible to have a depot in town where residents could go to compost.

On the other hand there would probably be commercial pickup of vast amounts of organic waste from the hotels, restaurants and bars.

"Whatever way we collect it, ultimately it would end up going to a centralized composting facility," said Allen.

Another study on construction and demolition materials, which is soon to get underway, may also affect solid waste management in the SLRD.

In 1999 24 per cent of the waste by weight that went to the Whistler landfill was construction and demolition waste. (This translates to 45 per cent of the waste by volume, meaning how much space it took up in the landfill.)

Allen said 1999 was a busy but fairly representative year of building in Whistler.

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