Squamish wants Whistler’s garbage for regional landfill 

Squamish council approves regional landfill in principle and looks to Whistler for support

Squamish will need Whistler’s garbage if the community is to follow through on plans for a multi-million dollar upgrade and expansion to its landfill.

And it just so happens that Whistler is looking for a place to put its garbage in the near future.

If the two towns can reach an agreement, Squamish could be home to the Sea to Sky Regional Landfill – an option that may be the most cost effective for both communities.

"It’s clear that if we go it on our own it’s going to be much more expensive to provide services to our community for garbage," said Acting Squamish Mayor Sonja Lebans.

"But if we perhaps can develop a regional system that would allow us to do the work that we have to do in terms of liners and leachate and all the rest, we could do it with a shared cost. We could spread the cost around a bit."

At a July meeting, Squamish council unanimously approved in principle the extension and expansion of their landfill to a regional landfill.

It’s the first step to solving a longstanding problem for Squamish about the future of its landfill.

The province has given Squamish two exemptions already, allowing the landfill to operate at standards far below the provincial requirements.

Currently the landfill, which is located in the north end of Squamish near Alice Lake, is operating without a clay or geomembrane liner, a leachate treatment system, a monitoring network, or an electric bear fence.

Those requirements will cost millions and time is fast running out as the current Squamish landfill permit runs out in 2008.

But now Squamish sees a way to solve its problems, by taking in Whistler’s garbage.

This summer Whistler council approved the development of the 2010 Olympic athletes village in the Lower Cheakamus, a stone’s throw away from Whistler’s landfill.

That decision marked the end of the landfill’s days. Now it could close down as early as next year.

Taking its garbage to a regional landfill, only 50 kilometres down the highway, could be the cheapest option for Whistler. It could also be the cheapest option for Squamish.

Dr. Tony Sperling, president of Sperling Hansen Associates, presented compelling numbers to Squamish council backing up his recommendation to pursue a regional landfill.

Of several options available to Squamish, among them exporting their garbage elsewhere and expanding to accommodate just their own garbage, the regional landfill option is the most economically feasible.

Rough estimates from Sperling show that Squamish would pay roughly $46 per tonne to dump its garbage under the regional landfill scenario. This cost roughly doubles in the scenario where Squamish expands its landfill just for its own garbage, and would rise to $122 per tonne if Squamish were to export their waste.

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