Central Coast Regional District managed landfill in the Bella Coola Valley. (Harley Pool photo)

Central Coast Regional District managed landfill in the Bella Coola Valley. (Harley Pool photo)

CCRD call for Bella Coola landfill closure funds from the province endorsed by UBCM

‘Down the road, without help from the province, we will have to look at exporting waste,’ CCRD chair.

Provincial funding is needed to assist local governments so they can comply with landfill operation and closure regulations.

That is the gist of a Central Coast Regional District resolution endorsed by 94 per cent at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention (UBCM) held virtually Sept. 14 to Sept. 17.

“It was great to get the support that we did, I wasn’t sure because I think a similar resolution has come before UBCM and not been passed,” said Jayme Kennedy who became CCRD chair at the Sept. 8, 2021 board meeting.

The landfill is the regional district’s oldest service in the region and when it was developed in the early 80s there were different rules and protocols in place, she explained.

“It has been grandfathered in for a lot of the new regulations, but it has to be — as it should be — and held to the same high standards that any urban landfill is,” she said. “We just don’t have the means. We don’t have that population base, and we are in this beautiful valley, surrounded by waterfalls and creeks, but we still have to deal with our waste.”

There are about 12 to 20 years of life left for the landfill and Kennedy said she cannot imagine anywhere else they could make a new one and the present one cannot be expanded.

“Down the road, without help from the province, we will have to look at exporting waste, I’m not sure what else we could do,” she added.

There is a recycling program in the valley and the CCRD is planning to develop a composting program and has about two-thirds of the funding for it so far.

Kennedy said originally the CCRD assessed capping the landfill would cost about $200,000, however, with the new legislation it will be closer to $2 million.

“If we have 12 years left it looks like we will be $1.2 million short at the rate we are able to save to retire that service,” Kennedy said.

During UBCM she met with the environment minister to raise her concerns.

“He was very receptive. I don’t know if anything will come of it, but he understood the pressures we are under with such a small population base. We have the smallest tax requisition by about nine times in the province and do not have any municipalities.”

She said the minister heard her out and passed her on to staff so she is hopeful.

“Getting the support from UBCM was really reassuring that there are other communities that are feeling the same pressure,” Kenney said. “The costs are being downloaded on local governments when the province has legislated the regulations without any fiscal framework to back it up.”

Shipping out garbage would be “prohibitively” expensive she confirmed, adding 12 years is not a lot of time to plan.

“It’s not something the CCRD wants to sit back and wait for a miracle to happen.”

A second resolution from the CCRD that was endorsed addressed the cost for small and remote communities to send representation to UBCM in person.

The resolution asked for the creation of a fund to support local governments that experience significant challenges allocating money for travel.

“For smaller places that’s our only chance to meet with the ministers, which is such a big part of it. People from the larger urban centres get those opportunities far more often. It shouldn’t be so much harder for smaller communities to have their voices heard,” Kennedy said.

“It’s so expensive for us to get there.”


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