Ottawa

Garbage too much for Ottawa landfills

Ottawa's two big landfills are running out of space and residents are being asked to reduce household garbage and increase their recycling.
The City of Ottawa's landfills will be full soon if residents don't recycle more items, city council heard. 1:52

Ottawa's landfills are running out of space, city council was told Wednesday, and residents need to reduce household garbage and increase the amount of recycling.

The warning came as Ottawa's population is expected to increase by 300,000 people over the next 30 years. The city is now considering how to divert waste from its two main landfills as one could fill in six years, another 15 years after that.

"It's a nightmare," said River ward councillor Maria McRae, "If you look at Toronto, it took them almost 30 years to actually buy somebody else's private hole in the ground, which is essentially what a landfill is."

McRae, who is also the chairwoman of the city's environment committee, said a lot is at stake. If the city does not come up with a solution soon, a last-minute answer could be costly.

"It cost [Toronto] tens of millions of dollars to [buy land]. The problem is, where to do you put your garbage if you keep creating it?" McRae said.

One current solution has Waste Management Inc. trying to convince the provincial government to reopen a Kanata landfill to commercial users. But residents are strongly opposed to that plan and their councillor is on the residents' side.

"They can contaminate ground water sources, which are very important for water source for many, many people," Coun. Marianne Wilkinson said, "So let's do a system that doesn't even have that possibility."

City staff has set a lofty goal of doubling the amount of organic waste going to the green bin program in three years.