The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) has taken the long view on waste management with a new draft plan aimed at significantly cutting back on the amount of trash sent to landfill.
The draft Regional Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan, which has been in development for two years, will provide a blueprint for managing and reducing waste, recyclables and organic materials in the region over the next 10 years.
SLRD board chair Jack Crompton explained how tackling the issue regionally could prove an effective way for communities to manage waste in the corridor.
"With issues that are more regional in effect, like waste, if we take them on in a piecemeal approach we'll find ourselves working against each other and maybe not having as large an impact as we want," he said.
Among the plan's recommendations is a proposal to reduce landfill-bound waste by a third within the next five years, with a particular focus on lowering the amount of food scraps and yard waste. Organics currently make up roughly 40 per cent of all waste produced in the region. The plan also aims to ensure that 75 per cent of the SLRD's population has easy access to organics recycling by 2020.
Whistler sent 516 kilograms of waste per person to landfill in 2014, down from 600 in 2009, according to the RMOW.
"Right now 54 per cent of the garbage we send to landfill is compostable, and so whatever we can do to divert that out of the landfill makes a lot of sense," said Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has contributed to the SLRD's overarching plan in a number of ways, including through the proposed introduction of a bylaw next year that would provide incentives for commercial and multi-family properties to begin three-stream waste collection separated into recycling, organic waste and garbage.
"Next year when multi-family stratas will have three bins to choose from instead of just heaving it all into the landfill, I think people will be very enthusiastic about that opportunity," Wilhelm-Morden added.
Commercial and residential strata organizations currently account for 64 per cent of all of Whistler's garbage.
Representatives from the SLRD, RMOW and other waste management organizations were onhand at the Nesters and Function Junction waste depots on Wednesday, Aug. 5 to get the public's input on the draft plan. It is part of a series of open houses scheduled across the region, including one set for Aug. 12 at the Pemberton transfer station and one in Squamish on Aug. 22 at the zero-waste station at the farmers market.
The SLRD has also launched a five-minute survey online that will help guide future waste management decisions in Whistler that can be accessed at www.slrd.bc.ca/LetsTalkTrash. If you provide your name and email address, you'll be entered to win a $50 gift voucher.