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Tentative landfill agreement compensates Cumberland

Cumberland could be on its way to receiving some serious money if a host community agreement results in an expanded engineered landfill at the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre, once known as the Pidgeon Lake Landfill.

The Comox Strathcona waste management service (CSWM) and the Village developed the agreement that balances the impacts of hosting a landfill against advantages received by a region. Pending the outcome of an alternative approval process (AAP), the CSWM will compensate the Village $300,000 per year for 20 years. The money would come from tipping fees.

The CSWM would also provide a maximum $3 million to upgrade the Cumberland/Bevan Road corridor to accommodate vehicles accessing the dump for the length of the agreement.

"It's been a long time coming," Cumberland Mayor Leslie Baird said. "It's nice to be recognized. They've been using it for the last 20 years, and it's deteriorated our road system."

The $3 million would come from taxes, about $3.50 on a home assessed at $350,000 in 2013. The amount would go up in each subsequent year until the full amount is borrowed.

The Cumberland dump opened more than 50 years ago.

"There's a lot of historical issues that haven't been dealt with, and roads is one of them," said Coun. Roger Kishi, Village representative on the CSWM board.

The CSWM has paid the Village a road maintenance allowance, starting at $1 per tonne or $70,000 per year. Last year it was bumped to $2 per tonne.

"It's going to create some certainty for the Comox Strathcona solid waste management area for at least the next 20 years of managing the waste," Kishi said.

Pidgeon Lake will continue to operate for a few years. Construction of a new engineered landfill in the vicinity might not happen until 2017.

"It probably would be very difficult to establish a new landfill in the region," Kishi said.

The CSWM board needs to obtain elector approval for the agreement, which would last 20 years. An AAP would then determine if electors support the agreement and the borrowing. If 10 per cent of electors sign a response form, the board can choose to proceed to referendum.

The CSWM board meets March 14 to discuss the logistics for the AAP, to consider a loan authorization bylaw and to set a deadline for submitting elector response forms. Details on the agreement and answers to frequently asked questions can be found at www.cswm.ca/hostcommunity.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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