By Alison Taylor
The resort municipality is in active negotiations to buy the private multi-million dollar composting facility, which has been sitting idle in Squamish for the past six months.
“We’re really excited to be able to keep the composting service in the corridor,” said Mayor Ken Melamed this week.
“Keeping it in the corridor is a win-win for everybody.”
Owen Carney, who launched the state of the art composting system amid great excitement in 2004, confirmed the negotiations are moving forward.
He suggested the cost of the facility would be less than $5 million.
The plans to acquire the facility go hand in hand with the municipal upgrades to the sewage treatment plant. It also meshes with the Whistler Liquid Wastewater Management Plan.
Whistler’s biosolids, the solid organic matter filtered from the wastewater stream, were never a part of the composting operations in Squamish, used instead for other municipal projects.
Carney said the region’s biosolids are critical to the success of the plant.
“If we have all the organics and biosolids in the region that’s the best,” said Carney.
A recent study, which examined treatment options for the biosolids produced at the Whistler plant, shows the composting is more environmentally and financially sustainable than storing it and using it after it has decomposed for several days, as is the current practice.
“We need to move our biosolid management away from Function Junction,” said the mayor. “We don’t have a whole lot of options but the composting one actually makes a lot of sense in terms of our own particular waste management.”
Carney shut down his operations in September after repeated complaints about the odour from the facility.
He said they had managed to get the smell under control but by then the Squamish Business Park had grown to accommodate Home Depot and Wal-Mart and the composting facility didn’t seem to fit in that location.
Carney said the proposed new site, next to the new waste transfer station in the Callaghan Valley, within Whistler’s boundaries, is a better fit.
“The Callaghan has a lot more room,” he added.
Whistler has also asked the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District to support the cost sharing of all capital and operating expenses based on a proportional user pay system.
The board appeared to be surprised by Whistler’s plans at the last board meeting in February. It is expected to be up for discussion again at the next meeting.
“We really think that it’s meaningful and logical for the region as a whole to get behind this,” said Melamed. “Dealing with compostable waste in this way is the best practice.”