Town council approves changes in waste management model

·4 min read

The West Yellowhead Regional Waste Management Authority (WYRWMA) board is changing into a commission, as discussed by council during the Aug. 31 standing committee meeting.

Administration explained that the current model is not achieving the preferred performance as it is run off the side of several Hinton administrative staff desks. Within the commission model, dedicated personnel would be hired to oversee the landfill management and improve waste reduction.

The Town of Hinton would no longer be responsible for managing the landfill alone.

On Sept. 7 council approved the requirement of all involved municipal Councils to review and approve the annual business plan of the Commission and to ensure the financial impacts be brought back to each council in advance of finalization and implementation of the commission model.

There are some exciting developments in waste divergence and power generation, which is something the WYRWMA lacked, said Coun. Ryan Maguhn during the standing committee meeting.

“​​It seems to be more common sense to have dedicated personnel who specialize in this area and have the time to investigate these leading edge possibilities. The reality is that is much more likely to happen if you have the dedicated personnel as opposed to people who are trying to run this off the corner of their desks,” Maguhn said.

Most municipalities have dedicated staff focused on waste diversion, said Myron Moore of Mooreview Consulting. Moore said Hinton’s current system is flawed and pointed out that there are about 2000 mattresses going into the landfill, which is a huge amount that could be diverted.

Through a facilitated process, Moore worked through developing a plan for future success of the WYRWMA governance, leadership, and operations over the next 10 to 20 years.

The new model would allow Hinton to hire experts in landfill management and waste diversion.

Maguhn asked if another waste management model could move towards revenue generation, to which Moore explained that a loss or surplus cannot be released back to municipalities. Instead, a surplus would lead to a reserve, which could be used to lower tipping fees for municipalities within the commission in the following years.

Bernie Kreiner, with Pinecrest Services Ltd., added that taxation requirements and tipping fees would increase in the immediate future in order to hire and pay staff.

“The commission would have its own paid manager as opposed to right now where Hinton pays the wages of the infrastructure services director to oversee and provide services to the Authority,” Kreiner said.

He added that the Town of Hinton will continue to be contracted by the commission to provide accounting and financial services but that management services would be phased out. This means administrative staff would be relieved of the duties related to the landfill management.

Mayor Marcel Michaels said that while short term costs will increase, the commission would allow the municipality to cut long term capital costs through increased diversion strategies.

Moore said that the more people use one landfill, the more those costs are amortized amongst the customers, meaning lower costs.

Before the minister receives an application to create the commission, each council needs to provide motions to establish a commission and the names of the first members on the board, Kreiner explained. Estimated financial implications for 2022 were provided to council and there will be a preliminary business plan.

Annual administrative costs are estimated at approximately $140,000 to $175,000 in 2022. There will also be approximately 10 per cent increase in tipping fees and current authority payments by the partner municipalities for the portion of 2022.

Based on the estimated incremental annual costs, this approximates $5 to $6 per tonne of municipal waste, assuming approximately 30,000 annual tonnes, or $0.60 to $0.75 per customer account per month, assuming approximately 20,000 total customers.

Administration explained that if one of the municipalities currently involved decides not to join the commission, they would have to manage their own waste and likely ship it farther and at higher costs.

The current WYRWMA operates a municipal solid waste disposal system on lands located west and adjacent to the Town of Hinton.

The Authority membership includes Yellowhead County, Town of Hinton, Town of Edson, and Municipality of Jasper, with two Council appointees from each municipality forming the Authority Board. There is a possibility that the Town of Grande Cache would also join the commission.

The Authority’s vision and mission speak to being a leader in regional waste reduction, managing waste on a regional basis, and to reduce waste disposal at the West Yellowhead Regional Landfill (WYRL).

After some organizational and performance challenges over the years, the Authority Board sought an external consultant to help analyze current issues, future opportunities, and formulate recommendations for the long-term.

Recommendations included expanding the mandate to all post collection aspects of the solid waste system, changing the structure from authority to commission for more flexibility, and hiring expert independent personnel.

Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice

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