Elizabeth Salton

Elizabeth Salton, the vice-chair of the Otter Lake Community Monitoring Committee, said homeowners are anxious to know whether proposed changes to the Otter Lake landfill will be approved. (CBC)

A move to dismiss proposed changes to the Otter Lake Waste Processing and Disposal Facility fell short of the mark on Tuesday, after a close vote at Halifax regional council.

The motion to dismiss the controversial changes to the Otter Lake landfill needed 12 votes to pass, but there were only 10 votes in favour.

Elizabeth Salton, the vice-chair of the Otter Lake Community Monitoring Committee, said that leaves homeowners in a state of anxiety.

"I think they will continue to be nervous, anxious, angry, worried — all the things that they've expressed so clearly at the community engagement process," she told CBC News.

"They have said, 'This means everything to us. This is environmental protection that we rely on.'"

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 oppose changes

Hundreds of residents came out to a series of public meetings this fall to oppose the changes. They 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.

Steve Adams, the councillor for Spryfield-Sambro Loop-Prospect Road, made the motion to dismiss the proposed changes. He said Tuesday's vote was disappointing, but he's not discouraged.

"The part that gives me confidence is that the majority of council agree with what we did but because of the process we had to follow, it still wasn't enough," he said.

"Ten members of our council have shown quite clearly that they do not agree with any discussion surrounding the removal of the front end processor and the waste stabilization facility. That gives me a good feeling about what lies ahead."

A report by Halifax Regional Municipality staff on the entire Stantec Consulting report is due back before regional council on Dec. 10 for a debate and a vote.