Have your say as CRD tries to extend life of landfill

The Capital Regional District wants to extend the life of its garbage dump by 55 years, but it needs your help to do it.

District officials are seeking public input on a plan to keep Hartland Landfill operating until at least 2100 by reducing and managing the region’s waste — including recyclables, compost and garbage.

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The landfill currently receives about 140,000 tonnes of waste each year or the equivalent of 92 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of garbage. That works out to about 380 kilograms per capita and the district wants to cut that by a third to 250 kilograms by 2030.

Planners have developed a number of strategies for achieving that, but they want to hear what people think of them before drafting the plan.

It’s a critical project, because if nothing is done, the landfill will be full by 2045 and finding another site would be challenging technically and politically, officials say.

“So if we can make this last for another 55 years — and potentially longer — this is huge,” said Saanich Coun. Colin Plant, who chairs the CRD board.

He noted that the region is already doing better than the rest of the province, where the amount of waste ending up in landfills averages about 506 kilograms per capita. “But we want to be half [that] and I think we can do this,” he said.

Russ Smith, senior manager of environmental resource management, said one of the keys will be diverting construction and demolition material from the landfill.

Most of the work to divert waste from the landfill is being done by homeowners through curbside recycling, he said.

“There’s always room to improve on that, but a big chunk of that work is being done. Now, we need to turn and focus — along with hopefully the province — on how do we get the commercial, industrial stuff out?”

Smith noted that when the economy picks up and people start building or renovating, it results in more construction materials coming to Hartland. The landfill manages the waste as best it can, but there are opportunities to divert it elsewhere, he said.

“We feel that’s a weak part of our system and we could do better, so that’s one of the areas we’re focused on.”

Other aspects of the plan could involve changes to the landfill’s design and more efficient compacting of the waste.

“It’s the combination of things that gets us to 2100,” Plant said.

People can provide feedback on the proposed strategies online at crd.bc.ca/rethinkwaste until Dec. 1 or by attending one of the open-house events that begin next month. Dates and locations can be found on the district’s website.

People will get another chance to comment after a draft plan is released in late spring.

lkines@timescolonist.com

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