In the not-too-distant past, Powell River garbage trucks dropped off their loads at a local incinerator, which was essentially a controlled bonfire in a concrete chamber just across the highway from Willingdon Beach.
When those operations stopped in 1995, waste materials such as incinerator ash were left onsite, along with piles of glass, tires, roofing and building materials, stumps and asbestos. Now the old Marine Avenue site has, not surprisingly, been deemed contaminated and needs to be cleaned up to meet BC Ministry of Environment standards.
Rather than removing what was left behind at considerable cost or partially remediating the land to a state where it is not fully accessible, an inspiring idea has arisen from the ashes: full remediation of the site followed by the building of a Resource Recovery Centre as a one-stop shop for residual waste, upcycling, reusing and recycling in a clean, state-of-the-art facility.
The facility could offer all available waste diversion opportunities in one location, so that what remains for landfill is considerably less.
With this as motivation, Powell River Regional District applied for and was awarded a site-specific federal grant of $6 million to go toward cleaning up the old incinerator site and building the centre. Launch is not a go quite yet though, as additional funds to complete the project would at least in part be coming from taxpayers.
Creation of a Resource Recovery Centre, along with eight other key recommendations, are all included in the draft update to Powell River’s 10-year waste management plan, also known as the Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Plan.
The plan is essentially a blueprint for how we will reduce, reuse, recycle and manage our waste and is a requirement for all regional districts by the environment ministry. Without such a plan, it is much harder to achieve waste-reduction targets.
Currently, Powell River sends 458 kilograms of waste per person per year to the landfill; the draft plan proposes dropping that down to 300 kilograms.
Residents curious to learn more and offer thoughts can attend one of six public-engagement sessions or take a site tour of the old incinerator site.
For information, go to powellriverrd.bc.ca and click on the Zero in on Waste logo.
Let’s Talk Trash is Powell River Regional District’s waste-management education program.