Tipping fees may increase for Pemberton, Area C residents 

Regional district prepares to amend solid waste plan allowing Whistler’s garbage to go to Cache Creek

Pemberton and Area C residents could be paying more to dump their garbage in just a few short months.

Whistler’s landfill, which takes all the garbage from the resort north to D’Arcy, is scheduled to close on Aug. 1, three years sooner than expected. Whistler’s garbage will be trucked to the Cache Creek landfill.

That means the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District must find a place to dump the garbage from Pemberton and Area C. The options include trucking the waste to Cache Creek along with Whistler’s waste or sending it to the Squamish landfill.

"I think (the decision) will be based on a combination of economics and viability," said SLRD Administrator Paul Edgington after the last SLRD board meeting on May 19.

At that meeting Whistler’s Mayor Hugh O’Reilly formally requested that the SLRD amend its Solid Waste Management Plan to allow Whistler to export its waste out of the region.

A move to Cache Creek, however, could mean increased tipping fees for residents in Pemberton and Area C, just as it does for Whistler residents. And that concerns the two SLRD Directors representing Pemberton and Area C, Mayor Elinor Warner and Susan Gimse.

"I need to understand what the cost impacts will be," said Gimse at the May meeting. That information is not yet available.

Once the local landfill closes Whistler’s tipping fees will increase from $25 per tonne to almost $70 per tonne, which will translate to a parcel tax increase of $29 per year for residents.

"It’s a significant increase, there’s no doubt about it," said O’Reilly.

The Whistler landfill was to close in 2008. After public consultation the resort community decided to put the Olympic athletes village in the Lower Cheakamus area near the landfill. That decision forced the early closure of the landfill.

Whistler looked seriously at two options — Cache Creek and the Rabanco site in Washington — and ultimately favoured the Canadian landfill in the Interior, 200 kilometres away.

O’Reilly was looking for the regional district board’s support to change the region’s Solid Waste Management Plan which would allow Whistler to truck the garbage out of the region, adding that he hopes this is not a long-term solution to getting rid of Whistler’s waste.

"We’re hoping that this is an interim measure," he said.

So are some other members of the nine-member regional board.

Squamish Councillor Corinne Lonsdale, who was sitting in for Mayor Ian Sutherland, spoke of her concern about the fragmentation of the garbage service in the corridor.

She’s worried that if Whistler’s waste goes to Cache Creek, the plans for a regional landfill in Squamish could amount to naught.

Almost a year ago Squamish council unanimously approved in principle the extension and expansion of their landfill, with an ultimate goal of becoming the regional landfill.

It will need millions of dollars to get up to code because already the landfill is operating at standards far below the provincial requirements. That’s one of the reasons Whistler could not send its waste there now.

But if and when the Squamish landfill is up to code, Lonsdale wants to ensure Whistler’s waste goes there for disposal.

SLRD Administrator Paul Edgington said the regional district is supportive of the concept of a regional landfill in Squamish.

He also said that if a regional landfill in Squamish proves to be a viable option, the board would likely recommend only approving Whistler’s waste going to Cache Creek for a finite period of time.

In the meantime, the board passed a motion at the meeting to inform the provincial Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection that it intends to amend its solid waste plan, pending the information about the financial implications the decision will have to the residents of Pemberton and Area C.

That same day the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board voted to add Whistler to the list of communities that trucks its trash to Cache Creek. That landfill takes waste from the Vancouver area, the Fraser Valley, Nanaimo, Powell River and from within the Thompson-Nicola region too. The Cache Creek landfill is scheduled to close in 2008, after which the waste will most likely go to the nearby Ashcroft site.

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