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Dissension morphs into agreement

Rural directors indicate consensus on funding closure plans

After years of dissension, Powell River’s elected officials appear to be in agreement on funding closure plans for former disposal sites.

Powell River Regional District and City of Powell River officials met on May 25 to discuss the draft solid waste management plan and particularly wording around closure plans. Colin Palmer, regional district board chair, highlighted key components of the plan, as well as parts involving expenditures by the city. “We want to review with the council the main aspects of the solid waste management plan,” he said. “We want to make sure you understand that progress is being made on this solid waste management plan already, money is being spent. We want to review with you the timetable and the costs.”

For example, the regional district has hired a consultant to implement an education program and it is in the process of setting up an advisory committee that will explore regional composting. In terms of the city’s commitments, Palmer said, the plan recommends the city should change to a one- or two-stream collection system. “People won’t need to separate their garbage in their homes at the rate they do now,” he said. “There’s a way that you can collect all the materials together, except for glass. . . It should cut costs.”

Mac Fraser, the regional district’s chief administrative officer, said regional districts have been responsible for solid waste management planning since 1995. “The logic simply is that solid waste management planning is a regional service, it’s a regional issue, waste doesn’t respect municipal or rural boundaries and therefore the intent is that it be a regional service, a regional plan,” he said.

The plan suggests the following schedule for closure plans: municipal airport site, 2012; municipal incinerator site, 2013; and Squatter’s Creek landfill, 2014. It allocates $30,000 in each of those years to pay for the plans.

Palmer said rural directors will recommend to the board that the regional district fund closure plans. “There’s no need to raid the reserves at all,” Palmer said. “That money can come out of operating from the regional district.”

City officials said they were pleased. “I think what happened today is a very positive approach, it’s a positive plan, it’s cooperation, not intrigue,” said Mayor Stewart Alsgard. “Any sort of suggestions that there might be something going on in the background has pretty much been dispelled.”

The revisions to the draft solid waste management plan, that reflect the understanding reached at the meeting, are expected to be discussed at a regional district committee-of-the-whole meeting.