The first public meeting on the future of the Halifax area’s garbage and recycling system drew a crowd of about 250 people, most opposed to any change.

Consultants recommend changes to the landfill at Otter Lake in order to save money.

Cost-saving measures include 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.

However, people who live near the landfill said those cost-saving measures would result in broken promises.

Fifteen years ago, a representative community group signed an agreement with the municipality to allow the landfill site in their backyard when no other community was willing to do so.

Hubley resident Richmond Campbell said people want the deal honoured.               

“They simply wanted environmental controls that were world class and those were the terms and they were put in writing. There was a very powerful moral argument for not reneging on the promise," he said.

Lakeside resident Rob Martin said he also has concerns about potential changes to the landfill.

“The membranes are designed to protect the groundwater I drink from chemicals that are in the garbage, If we want to reduce that, it won’t be the gold standard anymore, that concerns me,” he said.

Others opposed to the changes wore stickers that said, “Leave Otter Lake alone.”

Some wore t-shirts that said "something smells" — they weren't referring to the landfill. It has drawn few complaints.

At the same time, recycling has diverted more than half of all residential waste.

Public meetings on garbage will continue for the next month.