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Solid waste service has 'sleep-walked into the abyss'

The Strathcona Regional District has considered pulling out of the regional solid waste service that is administered by the Comox Valley Regional District.
The district board, which serves Campbell River, has been concerned about a lack of information on the budget process, a lack of openness and transparency, and about a "perception of a Comox Valley-centric service with respect to advertising and publications,” Strathcona's chief administrative officer Brain Reardon states in a report.
He concludes, however, that creating a solid waste structure in the Strathcona district would be time-consuming and costly.
CVRD board director Edwin Grieve notes the Campbell River landfill is on the brink of closing as the capping-off process is scheduled to begin in November. Residuals will be trucked to the dump in Cumberland.
"It looked like it was going to be a difficult situation because of the fact they have steep slopes," Grieve said. "There were no retainment walls or anything."
Thomas Boatman, the Comox Valley Regional District's new manager of solid waste, has indicated the district can get several more years off the Campbell River facility if only part of the facility is closed.
"To me it's amazing how this thing has stumbled and sleep-walked into the abyss," Grieve said. "We're at the point where we're closing facilities and yet nobody's really raised the subject. Now we're almost at a crisis situation. The Comox Valley landfill, I think, has maybe eight or 10 years left in it, if we do a lot of diversion."
He anticipates a multi-regional solution with the addition of Boatman.
"It's very difficult to even get a landfill licence nowadays from the Ministry of Environment," Grieve said, noting regional districts on the east coast of the Island and Metro Vancouver are facing "big decisions" about what to do with solid waste.
"I would be very surprised if our cousins to the north of the Oyster would be looking at going it alone. The days are gone when every community could have a landfill in its backyard."
Grieve said some of Strathcona's concerns have been laid to rest because the CVRD did not have a solid waste manager for some time.
"Campbell River has a different way of doing their financials than we traditionally have done here," Grieve said. "I think there'll be a lot of comfort in this budget cycle...All in all I think we've made great strides in the last few months alone."
He notes potential economic development opportunities such as using methane to power greenhouses.
"There's a lot of options that we're going to have to explore," Grieve said.
reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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