Dismiss Otter Lake landfill changes, urges councillor
Residents say cost-saving proposals would break contract, weaken environmental protections
A Halifax-area councillor says it's time to dismiss the proposed changes to the Otter Lake Waste Processing and Disposal Facility, given the overwhelming negative response from people who live in the area.
Reg Rankin, the councillor for Timberlea-Beechville-Clayton Park West, said it's clear the public doesn't want to change how things work at the landfill.
"Overwhelmingly they stated, 'Please honour the contract,'" said Rankin.
"It follows that we ought to listen to the results of that consultation."
There's been opposition to the suggested changes to the Otter Lake landfill since Dartmouth-based Stantec Consulting Inc. released a report on the city's garbage system earlier this year.
The consultants said operations at Otter Lake cost $170 per tonne of waste, while typical industry figures are $50 to $100 a tonne. They recommended changes to save money, including eliminating the sorting system used at the landfill and replacing the top-quality membrane that prevents liquid from entering the groundwater with a cheaper option.
Other cost-cutting measures included increasing the lifespan of the landfill from 17 years to 23 and increasing its height by 15 metres.
Hundreds of residents came out to a series of public meetings this fall to oppose the changes and argued the cost-cutting measures would result in broken promises to the people who agreed to allow the landfill site in their backyard 15 years ago, when no other community was willing to do so.
Rankin said he agrees with local residents.
"What is it that we think we can accomplish by ignoring our own agreements? What we risk is certainly growing public distrust," he said.
"It's in the permit that was issued at the time from the province that it would endure to the end of the landfill life. These things are contracts. Why aggravate a situation that is not justified?"
Halifax regional council is set to debate and vote on the recommendations of the Stantec Consulting report when a staff report is presented some time before the end of the year.
Rankin said when it comes to the Otter Lake proposals, he doesn't see the need to wait.
"Why wait for a staff report if you already know what's the right thing to do?" he said.