Sunday, July 3, 2022

Guysborough sells landfill

Buyer is major waste management company GFL Environmental

  • June 8 2022
  • By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – The Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) hadn’t put its waste management facility up for sale, but a buyer came knocking anyway.

That buyer, GFL Environmental Inc., proved determined in its pursuit of the local landfill site – a modern second-generation waste management facility having multi-year agreements with 17 municipal units on Cape Breton Island and the eastern mainland of the province. GFL approached the municipality about a potential sale of the site along Route 16 several times in recent years, eventually putting an unsolicited offer on the table, municipal CAO Barry Carroll told The Journal Tuesday (June 6).

“First and foremost, we looked after our employees,” Warden Vernon Pitts said of the deal during an interview with The Journal on the same day. “We retained all the jobs.”

While the purchase price is not being disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement, Pitts said, “Council will invest that money and generate a return and that will keep our tax rates down. It also affords us the opportunity to invest in other opportunities that may come along.”

The agreement to sell the facility was confirmed by a council vote at a special meeting on June 6.

The deal closes on Sept. 1.

Carroll said when onsite staff transfer to GFL, wages will be maintained at current rates at a minimum. Waste collection in the municipality will still be done by MODG staff, with the relevant equipment to be moved from the landfill site to Guysborough.

There will continue to be no fees for municipal residents for waste disposal at the facility for the next 25 years.

The sale also removes risks for the MODG. “Past, existing and future liabilities [of the site] are being assumed by GFL,” said Carroll of the deal.

Pitts said the timing of the sale makes sense: “Down the road, what is solid waste going to entail in 10 years, in 20 years? Every year it’s more about diversion, which is a good thing,” he said.

More waste will be diverted from the facility.

“So, what is it worth today versus if things change substantially down the road? Where does that leave us? We would have to maintain it and monitor it and that’s forever and that would be a substantial cost.”

In addition to the purchase price, annual fees will flow to municipal coffers for every tonne of waste handled at the site.

"Security of jobs for our employees with equivalent benefits, the purchase price, an ongoing stream of income for MODG, our residents and businesses using the landfill at no cost to them, and the assumption of liabilities by GFL for the site were integral to getting this deal done", said Pitts in a news release announcing the deal. "And we're getting an owner/operator in GFL who is best in class, with a strong environmental compliance record, and the wherewithal to ensure the long-term sustainable future of the facility."

GFL Environmental Inc., headquartered in Toronto, operates in all provinces and employs more than 8,850 people. The firm provides waste management and other environmental services to municipal, residential, commercial, industrial and institutional clients.