By Loreth Beswetherick The Whistler and Squamish dumps were due to be shut down this year and the community's waste was to be shipped to the Rabanco landfill in Washington State. That is still the official plan according to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District's Solid Waste Management Plan, completed in October 1996. However, Whistler council took steps Monday night to change that. Councillors voted unanimously to approve a draft amendment to the Solid Waste Management Plan that will see the Squamish and Whistler landfills stay open until 2008. This is consistent with a council decision made in January this year to extend the life of the dump. This course of action was decided upon when, in finalizing the 1996 plan, it was discovered the costs of shipping Whistler's waste south were significantly higher than anticipated. The next step, before the plan can be officially amended, is a public review process with meetings to be held in Pemberton, Whistler and Squamish in September. Whistler council also voted Monday to approve a new cost-sharing system to compensate the SLRD for expenses associated with running the Pemberton and Devine transfer stations, which occurred as a result of changes to the waste management plan. Under the new system — which will be implemented January 2000 — Whistler and Squamish will split those costs in proportion to the amount of waste generated by each town. Whistler produces about 60 per cent of the combined refuse from both communities. Until now, Whistler has been solely responsible for those costs. In 1998 they amounted to $50,300. Under the new agreement, that amount should drop to around $30,000 per year. The costs, however, are expected to increase as construction and growth continue in Pemberton and Devine. The regional district will also be instituting a new system for collecting waste administration fees from all communities in the area. Residents of member municipalities have, to date, been billed on a property assessment basis with Whistler's portion coming to 67 per cent, or $98,624 of the overall $146,700 bill in 1998. Now, a user-pay type system will be used to collect each municipality's share of the SLRD administration fee. Costs will be calculated proportional to the amount of solid wasted generated by each community. Whistler produces 53 per cent of the district's waste. The new system will see the resort's costs decrease by about $21,000 on an annual basis. The municipality is now planning to conduct a detailed analysis in 2004 to determine a course of action for the Whistler landfill beyond 2008.