Iqaluit council passes solid waste plan, with incinerator
Northwest site will replace overflowing West 40 landfill
Iqaluit will get its new waste site, complete with a garbage incinerator, within the next two years.
Seven weeks after city council refused to adopt a new waste management plan until it included an incinerator, the city’s department of engineering and sustainability came back with a new draft, complete with council’s demands, Jan. 28.
Even though they sat four members short, a unanimous decision by five members was enough to pass the re-drafted proposal at the regular meeting.
The revised plan brings the set-up cost of the new waste site up to an estimated $13.98 million from the original $9.08 proposed Dec. 10.
Annual operation and maintenance costs of the new facility, to be located more than 8.5 kilometres northwest of the city centre, will come to about $1.7 million, once the site becomes operational in late 2015 or 2016.
This is almost double the $870,000 in annual costs that would have been generated by the “open windrow compost” plan originally proposed, which includes composting, separation of recyclable material and hazardous waste, a re-use centre and end-of life-vehicles program.
Meagan Leach, director of engineering and sustainability for the city, confirmed that garbage collection fees will have to rise by 63 per cent under the revised plan, compared to 30 per cent under the original plan.
Garbage collection fees are now $55, charged every two months per residence.
Coun. Kenny Bell is sceptical about the projected increase to the fees.
“I still believe that number is completely false, and I’d like some proof as to where you got the 63 per cent from,” he told Leach, who presented cost outlays with councillors in a new draft proposal.
The increase “only relates to operation and maintenance cost-related increases, it doesn’t have to do with capital (set-up costs),” she replied.
The department calculated the estimate based on disposal fees for each type of waste, amounts of garbage produces, and estimates on costs of incineration from incinerator firms, she said.
Bell pointed to a large part of the project’s cost — $6.5 million for a 3.6-kilometre access road to the site. The road will be built not only to get garbage to the site, but also to serve as access to a “granular” source for the city’s department of public works.
“So that’s for a road that’s going to be developed, regardless of whether we put it (the new Northwest landfill site) there or not,” Bell said.
Leach replied that the $6.5 million would cover added costs to the road for the waste facility, over and above its use to transport rock, gravel and sand from the granular source nearby.
“We have no idea where we’re going to build the incinerator, we have no idea where we’re going to build the compost,” said Bell. “We don’t even know if the rock is actually good for us.”
Leach confirmed that the city still needed to complete a geotechnical survey to confirm the site is “appropriate” for its planned uses.
“That’s my point, is that we don’t know any of this information,” Bell said.
“Right now we’re at the very beginning, which is the planning phase,” Leach replied. “We’ve collected the best available information, and presented it to you for consideration, to give a sense of what the impacts might be.
“As we get more information, these numbers will become more specific.”
Bell then focused attention on the city’s obligations to submit its solid waste treatment plan to federal and territorial regulators, namely Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the Nunavut Water Board and the Nunavut Impact Review Board.
These have in recent years repeatedly called on the city to update its solid waste plan. Mayor John Graham admitted at a Jan. 21 council meeting that the city must submit its plan to regulators “as soon as possible.”
Leach confirmed the same to Bell, adding that the city expected to do so by Jan. 31.
Council passed the proposed plan unanimously after a 45-minute review. Mayor Graham and councillors Terry Dobbin, Mark Morrissey and Joanesie Akumalik were absent from the meeting.
Leach admitted to Nunatsiaq News that the city’s need for a new solid waste plan is urgent, but could not say more, other than “obviously we need to build a new site as soon as possible.”
By veteran councillor Simon Nattaq’s description, the city’s West 40 landfill now contains two large piles of garbage “taller than Iqaluit’s highest buildings.”
Leach said the city will start working on the new Northwest waste site “right away.” The first step calls for the city to hire a firm to design the facility.