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Squamish deciding whether to accept Whistler waste


The District of Squamish is going through a complete review of its waste management processes and in Tuesday's regular council meeting voted unanimously to accept recommendations that included upgrading the landfill with consideration for taking Whistler's waste in the future.

The Squamish landfill currently takes waste from other areas within the Sea to Sky corridor including Pemberton and Lions Bay. Whistler is currently trucking its solid waste to Surrey, where it is loaded onto train cars and taken to the Rabanco facility in Washington State.

Sending that waste to Squamish would generate revenues for the district, but it could shorten the estimated lifespan of the Squamish landfill to eight years, unless there is a major expansion.

But while accepting Whistler's waste is being considered, Councillor Doug Race wanted to be clear that nothing has been decided yet.

"This is an inflammatory issue and something the media jumps on," he said, stressing that the text of the recommendations received by council on Tuesday only reflect that the district is considering the idea. "No decision has been made to accept it, it's one of the options being considered and that's the extent of it at this point."

The earliest that Squamish could complete the upgrades required to accept the solid waste is two years time.

The list of recommendations accepted by council on Tuesday includes receiving the Comprehensive Solid Waste Strategy that was prepared for the district; supporting in principle the creation of a Solid Waste Project Manager position for an 18-month term; supporting an immediate upgrade to the landfill; directing staff to prepare a new solid waste disposal agreement to reflect changes to the landfill, and supporting in principle the creation of a solid waste utility for the district. A utility would handle all the costs and revenues associated with the landfill, something Mayor Greg Gardner said would ensure that the operation of the facility would be transparent.

The recommendations approved by council also allow for public input as the project moves forward.


Westway Avenue cycling, parking decided

After months of debate within the community, the District of Squamish at last came to a consensus on what to do about Westway Avenue, the main artery in the Valleycliffe subdivision.

Currently there is parking on both sides of the road, squeezing together bike traffic and vehicle traffic. The community and district recognized that the status quo was not ideal or safe if the district was going to realize its goal of completing a bicycle network from Valleycliffe to Brackendale.

At the most recent community meeting on the issue on Feb. 8, community members looked at three options for mixing parking, bike lanes and traffic, and at last decided that the best approach - until the road can be upgraded to include a dedicated bike lane - would be to allow for a 2.4 metre wide parking lane on the downhill side of the avenue, with two four-metre shared use lanes. Bike lanes would be painted onto the four-metre lanes, and signage would make it clear that the road was to be shared with cyclists.