KITIMAT-STIKINE regional district official Roger Tooms has responded to criticism over the location chosen for a new landfill site with a lengthy letter.
Tooms, in the letter, says Forceman Ridge meets regional district requirements as it prepares to bring in new methods to handle waste in the area.
The City of Terrace dump on Kalum Lake Drive is to close and the regional district’s own landfill in Thornhill is to become a waste transfer station as part of the changes.
The letter by Tooms, dated Jan. 16, 2013, is in response to one sent Nov. 19, 2012 by RAfaSIE (Residents Advocating for a Sustainable Inclusive Environment), which is critical of the Forceman Ridge decision.
Immediately below is the RAfaSIE letter and below that is the response from Tooms.
November 16, 2012
An open letter to the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine, Terrace City Council and the Ministry of the Environment
On Oct 19 2012, RAfaSIE (Residents Advocating for a Sustainable Inclusive Environment) made a presentation to the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine Board. The focus of the presentation was on the community’s view of the local governments lack of public engagement on local waste management issues.
On November 14 2012, RAfaSIE presented a plea to Terrace City Council to clarify some concerns about the planned closure of the Terrace Landfill and the decision to relocate waste management to the Forceman Ridge site just south of Onion Lake.
The focus then was to identify if there was any sound reasoning for the Terrace Dump closure and if there was any merit in maintaining waste management on that site.
As far as the public can see there is no reason to close the Terrace Dump as the many hectare site appears to be highly underutilized especially considering new technology which is planned for the Forceman Ridge site and could just as easily be placed on the Terrace Dump (Landfill) site in its self containment mode.
With over 70 per cent of waste in the area originating from the Terrace Municipal area it would seem environmentally unsound to truck waste a distance that is more than 30 kms out of town. Based on the increased traffic on Highway 37 the Forceman Ridge location will more than create traffic hazards and safety concerns on that already congested corridor.
In addition it has been proven that the Forceman Ridge site is a natural pathway for a large group of carnivores that migrate from Chist Creek to the Lakelse River which contradicts the study completed for the Regional District, that indicates the only impact on local wildlife, is to Goshawks.
It appears that the studies completed on the Forceman Ridge site are either inaccurate or incomplete and that little to no professional studies or reviews have been completed to access whether the original Terrace Dump site can be better utilized.
Our collective community group of 1000 believes the site is not near its capacity and the appetite to retain the site as a fenced in “brown field site” which will require ongoing remediation does not add value to closing it. RAfaSIE requests that the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine, Terrace City Council and the Ministry of the Environment postpone any further development of the Forceman Ridge Site until an independent review be completed to answer the following questions:
1. Can the Terrace Landfill site remain open and operational based on today’s technology?
2. What additional costs are there to the taxpayer if the Terrace Dump closes based on preplanned alternatives at Forceman Ridge?
3. The choice of closing the Terrace Site to open the Forceman Site will impact on the local environment and the habitat of all the wildlife that currently naturally live there which contradicts the study completed by the RD so will the RD conduct an independent review of impact to wildlife and habitat?
4. If the containment plans proposed at Forceman Ridge are deemed to be safe to the environment than why would they not be safe to be placed on the Terrace Landfill Site where a natural clay base would provide additional backup safety?
5. Why would the Ministry of the Environment support placing a landfill site in the middle of a provincially recognized recreational area, when they can provide waste management on an already well-established site at the Terrace Landfill which is destined to never be more than a fenced in brown field site regardless of closure?
6. Are the Ministry of the Environment and local governments not in violation of their own required commitment to reduce carbon emissions by supporting a plan for long distance trucking of waste garbage to the Forceman Ridge Site instead of retaining current trucking within the municipality to the local Landfill Sites?
7. Is it possible that the best choice for waste management as of 2012 in the greater Terrace area is not Forceman Ridge with a transfer site at the Thornhill landfill but rather one upgraded site on the parcel of land known as the Terrace Dump (Landfill site)?
RAfaSIE on behalf of the growing body of concerned citizens recognizes that the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine has spent some $800,000.00 on studies to convince the community that Forceman Ridge is the best choice. Just as Kitimat -originally a planned participant in the F.R. landfill has rethought the merit of this plan and has withdrawn its support – so to, do more and more of the local population.
We look forward to your thoughtful response.
RAfaSIE (Residents Advocating for a Sustainable Inclusive Environment) Chair Person
And here is the Jan. 16, 2013 response from Roger Tooms.
Dear Ms. Penner:
Thank you for your letter dated November 16, 2012. You raise a number of questions with regards to the Regional District’s decision to develop the Forceman Ridge Landfill and not to carry on with the current facilities – Terrace and Thornhill Landfills.
Your letter also states the community’s view on public consultation is that the Regional District has failed to engage on the solid waste issues in the Terrace area. The Regional District’s Solid Waste Management Plan was completed in 1995 with the assistance of both a technical and public• advisory committee. The development of this plan included public consultation throughout the region and throughout the planning process.
The plan resulted in a recommendation to develop a common landfill for the Terrace area.
The Thornhill Landfill was considered a potential candidate at the time and the plan also recommended a new site be located as an alternative. The public feedback in 1995 was clear – do not upgrade Thornhill.
In 1996, the Regional District established a Landfill Siting Advisory Committee to assist with the site selection process. The goal was to identify a site suitable to develop a landfill to serve the Terrace area for many years and to confirm a low risk facility to our residents and the environment.
The Thornhill Landfill was examined along with the Forceman site and the two sites were compared at a conceptual level. It was determined the sites would be similar in cost and that an upgraded Thornhill option would come with a higher risk to the environment. In addition, the Forceman facility would provide at least twice the service life to the Terrace area.
The Terrace Landfill was also examined in 1999 on a conceptual basis to serve as the sub-regional facility and it was reaffirmed in conjunction with the City of Terrace that the Terrace Landfill should be closed. Although technically possible to develop a new landfill on the Terrace Landfill site, it would be at a significant cost, first to investigate the technical viability of the site including extensive stakeholder consultation and successfully completing a Regional District Solid Waste Management Plan amendment.
An upgraded Terrace Landfill would require a more complex treatment facility and pose a higher risk to the sensitive receiving environment adjacent to the site. In addition to high costs and risks, the proximity to residential development in the area would be considered unacceptable today, a concern similar to the Thornhill site.
The Forceman Ridge Landfill site has been studied extensively and the Regional District, the project team of experts and the Ministry of Environment are convinced, if developed and operated according to plans, it will be a low risk facility to our surroundings.
The Forceman development includes a new highway intersection to accommodate approximately 15 – 20 landfill users on average per day. The corridor you refer to and the current intersection to the Forceman site have managed many commercial vehicles over the years; likely many more than we presently experience when forestry was one of our main industries.
You also raise concern with regards to the carbon emissions associated with this increased traffic to the Forceman facility. The anticipated number and type of users per year would result in annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the order of 243 tonnes of carbon dioxide (C02) equivalent.
To put the resulting GHG emissions equivalent (243 tonnes C02) into perspective, we can compare it to the annuai greenhouse gas emissions from 51 passenger vehicles or the GHG emissions from the energy use of fewer than 13 homes for one year.
Many factors are considered when siting a landfill including proximity to service area. With our new Terrace area curbside collection program and supporting transfer station, we can expect to see an overall reduction of emissions.
Our wildlife consultants indicate that this area is more appropriately described as a broad wildlife movement corridor and, with the exception of an active road, no well-defined routes or trails through the footprint were identified. Wildlife movements are not restricted or “funneled” through the landfill footprint. The area is relatively flat and easy to travel through-that is topography (e.g. vegetation, terrain, landforms) do not pose barriers or bottlenecks for wildlife movements.
Use of roads (active and inactive) and the utilities right-of-way appears to be common, for some species, and probably some individuals depending on their level of wariness and security cover available.
Biologists concluded that numerous wildlife species, some potentially relatively abundant, would be traveling through the broader area, anticipating movements between Chist Creek, Schulbuckhand Creek, Kitimat River and Clearwater Lakes-Lakelse area.
Specific to grizzly and black bears, while our biologists anticipate that they will commonly travel through this area, they will spend much more time using areas with higher habitat suitability to fulfill their feeding requisites.
Therefore, the biologists anticipate that potential impacts of the landfill on grizzly and black bears will be low, provided that they are excluded from the· landfill site (i.e. electric fence to effectively exclude large mammals).
The studies on the Forceman Ridge Landfill development have been completed by a number of qualified professionals experienced with the various species and behaviours of wildlife, known or expected to use this area. Additionally, two other biologists reviewed wildlife habitat quality at the site prior to the current team of biologists, arriving at compatible conclusions regarding wildlife habitat and movements.
Based on these assessments, and the Regional District’s vision of developing and managing the Forceman Ridge Landfill site as a modern facility, they rated the risk of potential impacts to wildlife low for most species, with a somewhat higher risk for goshawks (at the individual and possibly population level) and marten (at the individual level).
Another biologist was brought into the team when the project biologists recommended that additional expertise and opinion be gathered for more comprehensive coverage of environmental values. In addition, a Province of BC Ecosystems Specialist conducted an independent review of the wildlife work including a site visit with our biologists.
With this additional input, our biologists have provided additional information in response to issues and concerns raised. They have concluded no significant issues that could not be addressed through application of best practices in waste management.
The Regional District has committed to comprehensive environmental protection planning that includes a habitat restoration component, which is in progress. The objective of this mitigation work will be to improve the quality of second growth habitats in the area to better support wildlife use and movements for focal species, within a landscape heavily fragmented by human disturbance.
A Habitat Restoration Plan will be developed with input from other resource management professionals and others with knowledge of relevance to maximize the effectiveness of this endeavor. This plan will be made available as a resource to support others that may be interested in management strategies to restore or maintain wildlife and their habitat in the area.
These activities will be done in conjunction with the landfill development and will include the involvement of the Kitselas Band throughout the process. The Ministry of Environment supports and is satisfied with these efforts-some of which extend beyond current standards of practice for landfills in B.C. and most notably in the area of minimizing and detecting potential effects to wildlife-to lead in best practices based on current scientific knowledge and information at this site.
Forceman is indeed in a highly used recreation area. In addition to the rock climbing/camping facility and the cross country ski trails, hiking, hunting and ATVing are common, well known activities.
Forceman development plans include screening the visual disturbance from the rock climbing area and working with the Province to improve the refuse management of the camping site and various hiking trails in the area including Clearwater Lakes.
The Regional District is working with a bear expert and plans to develop a Bear Smart Neighbourhood Program to reduce waste management related effects on bears associated with people living, working and recreating in the broader landscape.
A monitoring well to evaluate the groundwater in the area of the landfill site was installed on the cross country ski facility and constructed to serve as their domestic water source. The ski club is well aware of the Forceman development and no significant concerns were identified that could not be managed. Our garbage management program to reduce the human and bear conflict will also be offered to the ski club for both their winter and summer users.
The $800,000 expended on the Terrace area siting project was to determine if the Forceman site could be considered for a landfill development to serve the Terrace area for many years to come. The cost of this 17 year long exercise was well worth it. Knowing that the Regional District can build a facility with little or no risk to our residents and our environment is very comforting.
The Regional District spent these dollars to first convince ourselves that this is the solution we were hoping for – to find a site to support a landfill to serve the Terrace area which would not impact significantly on any single entity.
The Forceman Landfill development, in conjunction with the supporting facilities and services, is considered in the best interests of most residents and businesses in the Terrace area.
Kitimat decided to withdraw from participating in the Forceman Ridge Landfill early in the site investigations as they did not feel they required a new landfill option. Kitimat did not indicate that they were opposed to the Forceman site.
On behalf of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine board I thank you for your interest in our solid waste plans for the Terrace area.
Manager, Works & Services,
Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine