Costs expected to rise as regional waste production drops: regional district plan

·4 min read

As the city’s waste delivery system strives to achieve a zero position over the next 10 years its financial footprint will not.

A partner in the regional district’s Central sub-region for resource recovery, Nelson will see increases in the demand to contribute to its operating expenditures over the next few years, eventually rise to five per cent by 2029 and requiring “an increase in revenues at that time,” noted a Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) report.

The projected cost increases late in the plan period come from the closure of “legacy” landfills — such as Nelson’s waterfront site — with a final site assessment and detailed closure planning expected to be crafted at the time.

However, from the current year until 2027 operating expenditures are projected to rise only 1.2 per cent. This year the resource recovery budget is $22 million, costs largely covered by tipping fees and taxes, with financial reserves, borrowing and grants used to pay for capital works.

On the other side of the resource recovery ledger, the region’s per capita disposal rate is expected to decrease by 30 per cent in that same time span and “help address the climate emergency,” said RDCK resource recovery manager Amy Wilson in an online meeting with city council June 29, arising out of implementation of the RDCK plan’s strategies and actions.

Last year the RDCK disposed of 490 kilograms per capita of waste, less than the provincial average of 505 kg per capita. Wilson said it was estimated that 48 per cent of the waste disposed of in the RDCK came from commercial and institutional sources, 11 per cent from residential curbside collections programs and 41 per cent delivered directly from individual homes and businesses.

This year the beginning of significant waste diversion will occur with the construction of two composting facilities in the regional district through the Organic Waste Diversion Strategy, a process which began in 2017.

Nelson will join Castlegar and Creston in staging municipal curbside collection of organic waste next year, with commercial and institutional generators expected to eventually contribute organic waste to the composting facilities.

That program will help form some of the region’s zero waste actions, noted the RDCK presentation to council, with regional curbside garbage and food waste collection service for rural areas.

Wilson said the plan will also facilitate the reduction and self-management of organic waste by RDCK residents, assess the potential to expand curbside recycling, and establish additional Eco Depots (one-stop locations for a broad range of extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs).

The focus of the plan

• Increasing awareness of waste reduction and reuse;

• Proactively addressing the climate change emergency through reducing the amount of organic waste landfilled;

• Securing landfill capacity for the long-term future and maintaining compliance with increasing regulatory requirements;

• Completing the final closure works at legacy landfills;

• Improving septage management;

• Identifying opportunities for increasing operational efficiencies;

• Establishing a fair and sustainable cost recovery system while incentivizing waste minimization and diversion.

Source: RDCK Resource Recovery Plan

Three-in-one service

Three sub-regional service areas make up the RDCK’s resource recovery service, including Central waste, which includes the City of Nelson.

The sub regions operate as completely independent services with separate waste transfer and disposal facilities, recycling programs and contracted and in-house service provisions.

That also means annual budgets and tax requisitions are also separate for each sub-region, with three sub-regional resource recovery committees providing governance.

Today the RDCK system includes three active landfills, 13 waste transfer stations, 23 recycling depots and two organics composting facilities (to be constructed in 2021).

Overall, the service handles waste from a population of almost 60,000, with 48 per cent in municipalities and the remainder in rural areas.

The plan does recommend doing away with the three sub regions — which currently operate as three separate regional districts — and assessing the cost and benefit of a regionalization model. At the very least, the services of organics diversion, recycling and septage management were high on the list for streamlining.

Planning for the plan

Under a provincial directive, the RDCK recently drafted an update to its Resource Recovery Plan to guide how the RDCK reduces, reuses, recycles, composts, and disposes of garbage in the region.

The plan will undergo further revisions this month before being approved by the RDCK board of directors in August, with submission to the province in fall.

In BC, all regional districts are required to prepare solid waste management plans, which are long-term visions of how solid waste is to be managed.

A fully copy of the draft plan is available for review at rdck.ca/RRP.

Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily

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