Landfill site fails to pass the smell test

There's a lot wrong with new waste plan in northwestern BC

By Diana Penner

Everything is wrong about the plans to develop a landfill at Onion Lake. What are the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine directors and staff thinking?

Who in their right mind would think it makes sense to truck garbage 60 kilometers return from town, to a site on the top of a sand and gravel plateau at Onion Lake in the middle of a recreational area?

If this represents logical community planning I have to question who in the community agrees with the regional district. Have they asked you?

Their own advisory committee and the 100 concerned citizens who attended the open house in Thornhill this past spring overwhelmingly opposed the concept of this site, as did the 847 who signed a petition to the regional district.

After spending $800,000 on studies they ignore actual documentation, which states that the landfill effluent will discharge into the Lakelse watershed and that there will be traffic and safety concerns at the Highway 37 turnoff.

In addition they totally disregard the pathway of established wildlife populations, but move the site 150 meters for goshawks.

Despite this and a whole list of other concerns the regional district is still going ahead with plans to develop a landfill site which they are misrepresenting by calling Forceman Ridge.

Forceman Ridge is well away from this area so why not call it what it is – a landfill stuck smack in the middle of Chist Creek Recreation Site, Clearwater Lakes trails and the Onion Lake ski trail site and immediately next to a world-class rock-climbing wall and just above the Lakelse Lake Provincial Park.

That is not to understate the locations of our current two sites. One at Thornhill and one at Terrace that are now neighbors to a rural residential community.

However, the development of Forceman Ridge Landfill will not change that. Thornhill will remain open, just reframed as a transfer site which by the way increases the cost of moving garbage by handling it twice.

If you’re going to do that, then why not actually develop a proper recycling facility, then at least handling it twice will make sense.

Managing waste can actually be cost effective, add to the economy and reduce waste thereby enabling us to use our current landfill sites by virtue of reduced capacity.

The Terrace site has been written off by Terrace city councillors and is slated to close.

This however does not mean it will be better for neighbours as the site will be remain a brown field site for decades.

Neither Terrace council nor the regional district investigated the benefit of improving this site. They did not look into whether or not this site could be remediated, made better operationally or become an area to create effective composting, or any of the possible economies of scale that are associated with waste management.

Several businesses here are successfully make profits recycling, reusing, or remarketing waste.

Why then does Terrace garbage, which makes up the biggest majority of waste, need to be hauled 30 kilometres away when it could instead become a cost effective source of revenue instead of a burden on the taxpayer?

That’s right – you the taxpayer will have to pay increased taxes and user fees to dispose of your waste because of the decisions made by Terrace council and the regional district to develop the Forceman Ridge landfill site.

Both governments claim that the Ministry of the Environment requires them to close the Terrace and Thornhill landfills due to environmental concerns, which will be remediated.

To date however not even one environmental assessment has been done on any of the three sites. Something is wrong with this picture.

Diana Penner writes on behalf of RAfaSIE (Residents Advocating for a Sustainable Inclusive Environment).



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