The appeal process that was launched to oppose the granting of the operational certificate for the proposed extension of the Cache Creek landfill is just wrapping up; and Russell Black, president of Belkorp Environmental Services (the parent company of Wastech Services, which operated the landfill at the site until December 2016), is confident that work will begin soon on the extension.
“Final submissions have been made by the one person who appealed the operational certificate, and we’re just waiting for the results. We’re pretty optimistic that we will have a favourable outcome there, and we’d like to get the business started,” says Black, who adds that the extension will provide much-needed jobs in the area.
“We’ve had a very good relationship with our employees for 20+ years, and we’d like to get them employed again.” He notes that while the Metro Vancouver area is doing well in terms of jobs and growth, the rest of the province isn’t looking so good.
“Jobs are desperately needed in rural communities in B.C., and we want to get this up and running again. We’re pushing hard for that.” He anticipates that there will be 10 employees at the site at the initial start-up, adding that if they can get back up to where they were when the site closed—200,000 tonnes of rubbish per year—the number of employees will rise to 30 or so.
“Hopefully we can get back to that level of operation quickly, within a year or two,” Black says.
Cache Creek mayor John Ranta says that he is “very optimistic” that work on the extension can start soon.
“I’m optimistic that the decision [on the appeal process] will be handed down in the foreseeable future.” He says that a lot of rock-blasting has already taken place at the extension site, and that a few minor details are being cleaned up in preparation for the installation of the liner system. He adds that he thinks Black’s projection of the number of people who could eventually be employed at the site is an underestimation of what is possible.
“There’s quite a bit of waste going down to Washington State from a number of regional districts, whose contracts are written in American dollars. When you look at the difference in the American and Canadian dollar compared to when those contracts were entered into, it’s costing regional districts an awful lot more money now in Canadian dollars than it used to, in order for them to ship their waste to the United States.
“To have a viable option right here in the province I think is going to attract the attention of those who are shipping their waste to the U.S. Also, some of the waste that is currently being taken by private haulers down through Abbotsford and down to Rabanco [south of Seattle]: I think that is a possibility for that waste coming up to the Cache Creek landfill when it’s operating.”
Black notes that “There seems to be a strong sentiment to keep jobs in B.C. We see a lot of protectionism going on in the States right now—America first—and I think there’s a lot of desire to keep this economy strong.
“And we have a situation in the Metro Vancouver area, where most of the waste goes to completely unlined landfills. It would be much better for the environment if a lot of the material that was going to them went into somewhere that was lined, especially a double-lined system at Cache Creek where there is dry weather.”
Black points out that many of the Metro Vancouver landfills are along the Fraser River, and that there is an issue with material leaching into the river. “It’s not wise to be putting stuff in there, and I think the province is wise to this issue now. The Cache Creek area is a very good one for a landfill. We’re comfortable that we have a very good solution for the environment.”
Black says that the return of good weather in the area is good news for the construction of the extension. The final phase, which is the installation of the liner, needs to be done during warmer weather, and Black says August/September is the ideal time for that. “We’re about to go to the street [the week of July 3] with the contract for the liner.”
He says they have been cautious with the construction schedule, and planned it so that they can have the liner installed by September. After the liner is installed a few more steps need to be taken before the landfill can once more accept rubbish, with Black saying that the plan is for the extension to be operational sometime between November 2017 and January 2018.
Black does not foresee that the recent change in government in B.C. will present any difficulties.
“When I read the incoming premier’s statement to the media, he’s looking at creating jobs in all corners of British Columbia, and I’m hoping that they’ll see there’s a need to create jobs in rural B.C. and that they need to pay more attention to the economy outside of Metro Vancouver.
“From that perspective I’m hopeful that they see [the landfill extension] as a great solution for British Columbia in dealing with waste, and a great solution in terms of the economy in the rural areas.”