Cambridge Bay lays groundwork for new waste management plan
Hamlet will start recycling program in spring
The Hamlet of Cambridge Bay has started laying the groundwork for a new waste management and recycling plan that could set the standard for Nunavut’s hamlets and other small communities.
“It’s a really big task that we’ve taken on, and we’re more than happy to do it,” said Stephen King, senior administrative officer for the community of about 1,700 people.
Conceived by the hamlet, and funded in part by the territorial government’s Community and Government Services department, which contributed more than $6 million, the project includes household recycling, segregation of waste, and an upgrade of all waste collection and disposal facilities, both sewage and garbage.
The plan marks recycling as a priority. Once launched this spring, Cambridge Bay will become the first municipality of Nunavut to offer recycling services for residents.
“We’ve provided our plan to all the other communities of Nunavut,” King said, saying that all mayors and administrators of Nunavut’s 24 other communities showed interest in the project last fall, when hamlet officials described it to members of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities.
“It’s simple, and it’s going to work for us,” King said. “Hopefully, our residents can adapt fairly quickly to the recycling.”
Until recently, the community’s dump was little more than a “free-for-all,” King said.
Residents were allowed to dump any type of waste at any time, directly at the waste site, and the municipality picked up garbage from residents on an as-needed basis.
That’s all started to change, now that the hamlet has lined the dump with a fence, installed surveillance cameras, and set specific opening and closing hours for the site.
The hamlet’s next step, to be rolled out in spring, will be weekly curbside pick-up of waste.
Each resident will be given two separate bins, one for recyclables, and the other for regular waste. Items for recycling, collected in the second bin, will include aluminum cans, plastic containers, metal cans and juice box containers.
These will be collected at a separate division of the retrofitted dump, King said, and eventually be sent out of the territory for recycling.
Paper and cardboard will not be recycled under the new program “until a dry facility is in place to process and store” the items, the hamlet’s waste management and recycling plan states.
Cambridge Bay’s dump is divided into separate sections — one for regular garbage and another for metal.
In the past, the hamlet didn’t know what was dumped or when, King said.
The new site will store recyclables and other forms of waste, such as tires, batteries and appliances into separate cells.
Keeping recyclable plastics, metals and aluminum out of the regular dump will extend the life of the landfill, King said.
The project also fits in with a broader plan to conform to waste disposal standards set by the federal government and the Nunavut Water Board. Included in the upgrades is a new sewage cell, which filters pollutants out of run-off from dump.
The cell keeps the discharge of pollutants — which eventually empty into the sea —within legal norms, King said.
Tests on water run-off from the dump and the hamlet’s sewage lagoon have met all standards so far, he said.
The hamlet’s ultimate goal is “to be an environmentally-conscious community,” King said. “We want to be a leader in this type of endeavour.”
Now that the groundwork is set, and all equipment ready to put the new waste-management plan into action, the hamlet’s next big step is to inform residents about the new system.
“April 1 is the target date for rolling it out,” said King. “Most of it depends on our communications campaign.”
Mayor Jeannie Ehaloak said the hamlet’s biggest challenge, at the start of February, is to translate the plan into Inuinnaqtun for non-English-speaking Inuit members of the community.
“We don’t want to present it to the community if it’s not translated,” she said.
“Once we get our communication strategy up and going, and we start to put the plan in place, it’s going to be awesome,” the mayor promised.
“There are going to be a few bumps, and we are learning from the process, so it’s going to take time,” Ehaloak added. “But at least we’re taking the right steps to controlling our waste-management.”