SCRD directors are grappling with how to fund the closure of the Coast’s only remaining landfill, which is now forecast to close two years earlier than previously estimated.
At the Feb. 22 meeting of the corporate and administrative services committee, directors received a report saying that the date for landfill closure has been moved up from 2027 to 2025, based on recent measurements. The cost of closing the landfill is currently estimated at $5.8 million.
The SCRD has been setting $300,000 aside each year toward closure costs, but at that rate would be $3.5 million short of the needed funds in 2025. Directors were presented with two options: put aside an additional $400,000 per year starting immediately, or ramp up gradually by making an extra $125,000 contribution this year, and then increasing that amount by $125,000 per year to $500,000 per year in 2021 and subsequent years.
A $125,000 increase is equivalent to a 0.69 per cent overall tax increase in 2018, or $6.03 for an average residential property. A $400,000 increase would be equivalent to a tax increase of 2.2 per cent overall, or $19.28 for an average residential property.
Directors agreed on the gradual increase, but Sechelt director Bruce Milne said: “I think it reflects the culture of the board to back-end load liability.” Describing the situation as “crossing our fingers” that diversion rates improve or engineering solutions are found to lengthen the landfill’s life, he noted that “six years is going to disappear very quickly.”
The SCRD is hoping to increase waste diversion through measures such as collecting and composting household organic waste. At the end of 2016, the regional diversion rate was 56 per cent, but the goal in the solid waste management plan is 65-69 per cent. Meanwhile, the total amount of waste collected (including recycling and green waste) has risen almost 24 per cent since 2013. Even after accounting for a population increase, waste has increased from 421 kilos to 434 kilos per person per year.
The board also voted on increased tipping fees to cover the costs of handling some materials, including wood, roofing, metal, gypsum, propane tanks, mattresses, and commercial green waste (residential green waste is free). Donna McMahon