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Whistler looks to U.S. to dump waste

Province halts Ashcroft landfill approval, forcing Whistler to look elsewhere for a landfill



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The difference between the two landfills, added Barnett, is minimal.

Going to Rabanco now even at this late stage will not put Whistler at a disadvantage.

The Whistler landfill can still close by the end of the summer and it will not compromise construction on the athletes’ village.

"Everything is going according to plan," said Barnett. "So there’s very little impact to Whistler with this Ashcroft announcement… There’s no impact to the timing for the landfill closure. There’s no impact for the construction of the athletes village. And… the cost impact is pretty minimal."

Rabanco is slightly more expensive than Cache Creek at an extra $150,000 per year in the $4 million annual budget. That cost is based on an exchange rate of 80 per cent. The cost will fluctuate with the Canadian/U.S. exchange rate.

Unlike the Cache Creek option, which required five agency approvals, Whistler needs just two agency approvals to go south of the border; one from the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, and the other from the Ministry of Water, Land & Air Protection.

Another bonus, said Barnett, is that if Whistler signs a five-year contract with Rabanco, they will have one-month cancellation clause in the contract. Cache Creek needed a year’s cancellation notice.

That’s important for Whistler because the resort is still exploring options at the Squamish landfill.

That landfill is currently not up to provincial environmental standards and will need hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements to bring it up to code. The upgrade would expand the size of the Squamish landfill and its lifespan.

But becoming a regional landfill will only be financially viable if Whistler transfers its waste there, said Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland.

He said they would need a clear indication from Whistler and the SLRD and the people of Squamish that they want a regional landfill in their town.

"What we don’t want to do is spend a lot money and then find out there’s no interest," said Sutherland.

Consultants are in the process of putting together some numbers on the Squamish landfill.

In the meantime, the resort is working on an assessment of a permanent site from which Whistler’s waste would be readied for transport. Municipal staff is not ruling out any sites and is looking from Wedge to the Brandywine Falls area.

"Our preference is to have it next to the rail just so that transportation by rail is always a possible option for us," said Barnett.

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