By Cindy Filipenko
A letter from the Resort Municipality of Whistler informed the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District Monday of the municipality’s decision to opt out of the Solid Waste Equalization Plan.
The letter, from Bill Barratt, chief administrative officer for the RMOW, noted Whistler council’s Jan. 8 decision to no longer participate in the program.
Mayor Ken Melamed, a director on the SLRD board, said that circumstances had changed significantly since the solid waste management plan was adopted in 1997. At the time of its inception, the SWMP called for the closure of all landfill sites throughout the corridor. The agreement was amended to allow Squamish and Whistler to continue operating their landfills until 2008. The plan also allowed for Pemberton and Divine's solid waste to be disposed of at the Whistler landfill. The RMOW closed its landfill in November 2005. It currently ships its waste to Washington State, to a facility with environmental standards closer aligned with the Natural Step philosophy.
The amended agreement called for the RMOW and District of Squamish to reimburse the SLRD for the transportation and operation costs of the Pemberton and Devine transfer station. That amount, in 1998 values, was calculated at a cost of more than $50,000 to transport just over 1,300 tonnes of solid waste.
Mayor Melamed pointed out that with the closure of the landfill there was nothing left to equalize, so therefore equalization was pointless. SLRD administrator Paul Edgington pointed out that the current agreement extends to the end of 2008, “notwithstanding any legal opinion that the SLRD has obtained.” Edgington said that the SLRD would be seeking its own legal opinion on the matter.
The issue was deferred for further discussion until next month.