By Cindy Filipenko
It’s a crappy problem, but bio-solid management is officially on the table.
The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board has voted to add another $25,000 to the regional Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP). The extra funding will allow for a review of the implications and costs of Whistler’s proposed business plan and financing model for a composting facility.
(The composting facility is the one currently owned by Carney’s Waste Systems and stationed in Squamish.)
In addition to allowing for a more comprehensive review, the money will be used to facilitate public consultation on the local and regional implications of the proposed SWMP.
Directors endorsed the expenditure after the motion pertaining to the SWMP was split in two. The second part of the motion, addressing the issue of bio-solids disposal, initially called for complementary collaborative action by the SLRD and member municipalities. At last week’s SLRD board meeting, some directors felt the motion as presented was too broad and its endorsements would constitute a tacit agreement to use the facility.
“Why are we putting bio-solid disposal in the SWMP? It could have a large impact on all the member municipalities,” said Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland.
Director Sutherland pointed out it would not be responsible to commit to using the proposed facility without knowing the costs or the terms associated with such an agreement.
“If it makes sense and works for us and it works for Whistler, I’m fine with it, I just think the motion is too broad,” he said. “(Bio-solid disposal) should be a contract arrangement between us and Whistler. I want to do it under a contact arrangement not under the Solid Waste Management Plan.”
However, Sutherland followed up his remark with a statement about what he felt was the irony of the situation.
“I find it ironic that when the facility was in Squamish it wasn’t part of the SWMP and now that it’s going to be in Whistler we’re discussing it.”
Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed reiterated his position on including reference to bio-solids within the SWMP — a document he referred to as a “guiding tool” — several times during the discussion.
“It’s not like Director Sutherland will be voting on something today that would be binding in the future. We have to see the final report and vote on that,” said Melamed.
“I agree that the plan shouldn’t go as far as a contractual agreement, but there should be some discussion about bio-solids and their disposal should be referenced within the SWMP.”
SLRD administrator Paul Edgington explained the motion to address bio-solid disposal at solid waste facilities was put in place for discussion purposes. Edgington said that in no way did the discussion imply that use of a Whistler-based facility would be mandatory for SLRD member municipalities.
Fellow Squamish director, Raj Khalon, agreed with Sutherland that the motion was ambiguous and if the issue of bio-solids was being included in the SWMP for discussion purposes then the motion should reflect that.
“At this point the facility cannot accept bio-solids,” stated Sutherland. “So I don’t know why we’re discussing this.”
The motion, amended to reflect that inclusion of bio-solids disposal was for discussion purposes, carried.
The SLRD is currently observing a pilot project for bio-solids disposal in Squamish.