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Comox Strathcona to review region’s solid waste plan

Last major solid waste plan was developed a decade ago
CSWM is undertaking a major review of its solid waste plans for the Comox and Strathcona areas. Record file photo

Diversion targets, new technologies and old issues like illegal dumping – these are just few things the regional waste body has faced in recent years.

In response, Comox Strathcona Waste Management wants to take a new look at its solid waste management plan. The province, in fact, suggests regions review these plans every 10 years.

Sarah Willie, CSWM solid waste analyst, gave a presentation to the board at its last meeting in June before the summer break to outline plans for a review. The last time this happened was a decade ago, and part of the work will be to identify resources, funding and goals.

“It’s an extensive consultation that occurs in order to set the direction for the region and for the solid waste service,” she said. “Through this process we believe we can move forward with a number of initiatives.”

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This includes items on the agenda now as well as possible additions in the future based on consultations with the public. From the 2012 plan, Willie said, there are still a few items left on the to-do list. In this sense, the review will not be ‘knocking the house down’ and rebuilding something completely new.

“We think it’s more a renovation of an existing plan,” she said.

The hope is for staff to lead the process, with help from consultants. Staff expect to bring back more information in the fall for the board, which does not meet again until September.

As part of the process, they will conduct an online survey of the public on use of facilities or services, their satisfaction levels and other issues to identify any service gaps in the existing system. They will also examine what other regional districts have done with their plans. The hope is to have a draft plan ready for 2024 and finalizing it in 2025.

“We’re hoping that this timeline is achievable,” Willie said.

Director Daniel Arbour, who represents Area A in the Comox Valley Regional District, said he likes that the process is not leaving out rural communities and also wants focus on devising more ‘circular’ approaches when it comes to managing waste, especially around diversion goals, while also finding new economic opportunities.

Other issues the board raised included questions around methane emissions, social procurement opportunities, advisory committee participation and waste-to-energy options.

The board approved a motion starting the process to update the solid waste management plan for the entire service area and direct staff to notify the public and Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy of the intention to amend the plan and begin consultation. As well, staff will prepare the terms of reference for an advisory committee and plan to recruit members in the fall from different sectors within the community.

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