Tuesday, May 28, 2024

St. Mary’s facing $800,000 bill for new C&D landfill

  • January 17 2024
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

ST. MARY’S — Complying with recent changes to provincial regulations governing the disposal of construction and demolition (C&D) waste could cost the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s as much as $800,000 over the next two years, local officials have told The Journal.

“Estimates of costs to build and manage a [new facility] that would hold about two years of debris will now be expected to cost at least 800k, or 400K per year; possibly more,” said Warden Greg Wier and Chief Administrative Officer Doug Patterson in an email last week.

In the past, “less complicated debris storage cells operated with costs of around 30K per year to construct and manage,” they said.

The changes, which came into effect on July 5, have forced the municipality to suspend acceptance of C&D waste until, “We [can] develop and examine other possibilities ... as anything else would have put the taxpayers at risk for high expense costs ... Now, the real work begins to find other options and solutions and vet them.”

According to Violet MacLeod, speaking on behalf of the Department of Environment and Climate Change, “The province updated the construction and demolition debris regulations to better protect our groundwater, environment and public health; help reduce the risk of fires at construction and demolition facilities; and help us move closer to a circular [sustainable] economy.”

The changes include more stringent controls over ground water that might come into contact with debris and, as a result, absorb and convey pollutants. That, said Wier and Patterson, will require “a new storage cell for construction waste with a waterproof, sealed liner underneath to prevent any water from leaving the site. We also have to construct a pipe network under the debris and above the waterproof liner to collect any water. The water collected has to be carried to facilities that treat or store it.”

It was not immediately clear how St. Mary’s expects to pay for the new facility, although one source close to the issue indicated that staff had applied to the provincial government for partial project funding “a good three or four months before the regulations came into effect.”

Meanwhile, Wier and Patterson said, “We’re seeing a lot of practical solutions [to the current predicament], such as businesses making plans to keep a waste bin on their site … or willingness to take waste to other C&D sites.”

One is next door in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough’s (MODG), where Toronto-based GFL Environmental Inc., has owned and operated the landfill – including a state-of-the-art, provincially compliant C&D cell – since 2022.

“Anything like that from St. Mary’s would have to come to us,” said onsite operations manager Bruce Avery in an interview last week.

Allowable C&D waste there includes concrete and brick; grubbing and brush; clean soil and rock; treated and untreated wood ceiling; siding, tile, Gyproc and insulation; solid roofing materials; glass and vinyl window casings; carpets and floor coverings; and asphalt.

Not permitted are drywall compound boxes or pails; insulation bags, cans, drums or other packages; roofing adhesives and tars; waterproofing compounds; roofing product packaging; metals; light ballast; fluorescent light tubes; high intensity discharge lights; mercury thermostats; and cushion flooring and linoleum.

Avery added that any non-resident MODG customers “would have to pay extra” for the service. Tipping fees for C&D – which vary, depending on the type of materials – can range from $50 to $150 per tonne.

Wier and Patterson confirmed that, without supplementary financial support, the construction and management costs of a new C&D facility could break down to approximately $435 per resident over the next two years.

“We have formally reached out to the province via the Department of Environment and Climate Change in hopes of tapping into their expertise for help and options,” they said, adding: “Municipal council understands that supporting demolition helps economic development, including promotion of much needed new housing.”