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Cumberland balking at proposal to expand its regional landfill

Expanding the waste management centre in Cumberland and closing the Campbell River landfill is the most suitable of three long-term waste disposal options for the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts.

That's according to a financial analysis, community surveys and the findings of an engineering consultancy retained by the CVRD.

The landfill expansion option in Cumberland scored the highest in an EBA Engineering Consultants assessment of social, environmental and economic effects.

Expanding the local dump is estimated to exceed $175 million over 30 years. Cost per person would be $41 per year.

Its capacity is expected to last another four or five years. Expanding the Campbell River landfill over the same time span would cost nearly $190 million. Expanding both facilities would exceed $185 million.

Nevertheless, Cumberland council does not support the landfill operating within village boundaries.

"Council has not changed its position," Mayor Leslie Baird said. "We wanted them (regional district) to look at different options other than landfill. But my understanding is the cost of doing that is high."

Coun. Roger Kishi sits on the Comox Strathcona Waste Management board, which discussed Thursday the process around long-term options and a host community agreement. The board approved a regional Solid Waste Management Plan, which outlines strategies to achieve a waste-diversion rate of more than 70 per cent.

At the previous CSWM meeting, Kishi and three other directors voted against the draft plan.

"If we have to host a dump we should be getting some compensation for it," he said. "The piece coming out of both reports is the recommendation of one regional solid waste management centre in Cumberland.

"Council is not prepared to pass that when we don't have anything concrete. There's nothing on the table that makes it appealing to the village. Last year was the first year there were some measures put in place to address some of the concerns that a host community would have around hosting a landfill."

Cumberland received a dollar per tonne through the scales for road maintenance, which came to $70,000.

"There's a lot more than $70,000 worth of road work that needs to be done along the route that trucks take to reach the centre," Kishi said. "There's some serious issues along Bevan Road, there's culverts that need to be replaced, there's new culverts that need to be put in. There are a number of issues that the village would like to see addressed."

Such as leachate control from landfills. Kishi said there are standards that call for landfill linings to prevent leachate, or drainage, which the Cumberland landfill does not contain.

That said, council is maintaining an open-minded approach to the issue.

"We're going in with our eyes wide open," Kishi said.

The SWMP will be forwarded to local governments and First Nations for comment before being forwarded to the environment minister for final approval.

Kishi said the minister's decision will be difficult if the host community is not on board.

"What politician wants to force a solid waste management centre on a community?" he said. "But then the other reality is, if it's not here or in Campbell River, where in the Comox and Strathcona regions can there be a landfill?"

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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