Cumberland signs on for region’s compost program

The Village has been involved with a pilot compost program since 2012

Cumberland agreed to provide residential food and yard waste to the regional organics composting program. Black Press file photo

Cumberland agreed to provide residential food and yard waste to the regional organics composting program. Black Press file photo

Cumberland is committing to providing food and yard waste to expand from its pilot project to the region’s organic compost program.

The Comox Valley Regional District, working with the Strathcona Regional District through Comox Strathcona Waste Management (CSWM), is planning on developing a regional organics facility in Campbell River in a couple of years adjacent to that city’s current landfill site. The landfill is scheduled to close in a few years, with the Strathcona area’s waste to be brought to the landfill in the Comox Valley.

“As part of advancing that project, the regional district is seeking commitments from the Comox Valley and Campbell River municipalities that they’ll continue to provide feedstock – kitchen organics and yard waste – to their future facility,” Cumberland manager of operations Rob Crisfield told council at the May 25 meeting.

He added there are no other feasible options to process kitchen organics. In response, council passed a motion for the chief administrative officer to write a letter to the CVRD committing the Village’s support for the project, though with a couple of reservations.

RELATED STORY: Comox Strathcona Waste Management goes to procurement for organics site

In 2012, council for Cumberland agreed to take part in a pilot project for kitchen compost, which included the Town of Comox. It was set up at the regional waste facility on Bevan Road in Cumberland. In the time since, the Comox Valley and Strathcona regions have been working to find a site for a full-scale facility. The matter before council was whether it would commit to diverting and delivering residential food and yard waste for the new region-wide program.

This comes with a cost, according to a Cumberland staff report, as the tipping fees will go from the current $45 per tonne under the pilot project up to $12o per tonne. The report notes the current rates would eventually have to increase to reflect the actual cost to process the organic materials. This increase has been taken into account within the rate structure.

Solid waste rates, the report continues, will need to be increased starting in 2021 to cover the higher collection costs and tipping fees. It notes that solid waste restabilization funds will be used to stabilize the rate increase. Council is to receive more information on this for its fall budget sessions.

Coun. Gwyn Sproule was pleased to see the project moving ahead, though she expressed concern about shipping compost out of the area in the future and ultimately what this might mean for the Village’s carbon footprint.

“I see our compost now going a long, long way from us,” she said.

Crisfield responded they will likely have clearer information about carbon effects at a later date.

“I think all those numbers are to be worked out in the future,” he said. “They will be back-hauling with landfill material.”

Regional waste management staff have said the plan is to back-haul material in vehicles between the two sites instead of running empty trucks back once they have delivered their contents.

Coun. Sean Sullivan said he was happy to see the project continuing, though it was unfortunate the price was going up, while Coun. Vickey Brown said, “Finally, it’s moving forward for the whole Valley.”

Coun. Jesse Ketler, who also chairs the CVRD board, said the move represents the next phase beyond the pilot project. Despite the increased cost through CSWM, she said the cost would be even greater if the community were to undertake composting on its own.

“It was a pilot for a really long time, so it’s nice to see it moving to the next stage,” she said. “Having the buy-in from all the municipalities is really important.”

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