The long-anticipated new Eco-Depot for the Cache Creek/Ashcroft area is moving ahead, with construction set to start next month and a projected opening date of spring 2022 for the facility.
At its meeting on July 15, the board of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) authorized a contract with Timbro Contracting for construction of the Eco-Depot. Timbro sent in one of four tenders received for the project, and their bid of $2,349,061.26 was the lowest one received.
The bid exceeded the budget estimate for the project, which Jamie Vieira, Manager of Environmental Services for the TNRD, says is largely due to the global increase in prices for supplies and equipment. He says the increase is in line with other similar types of construction projects, and a report to the TNRD board noted that the budget shortfall can be covered under the existing solid waste service budget. As a result, the tax requisition will not increase as a result of the higher than expected construction cost.
The TNRD took over operation of a transfer station near the Cache Creek landfill when the landfill closed in December 2016. This was always intended as a temporary solution, but construction of an Eco-Depot was delayed when public objections were raised to a planned site at Boston Flats. After extensive consultation in the summer of 2019, a site on Campbell Hill Drive East — across Highway 1 from the landfill — was chosen and subsequently purchased.
Construction was scheduled to begin in 2020, but delays associated with COVID-19 and obtaining archaeological permits pushed the schedule back a year.
Vieira says that some light modifications to the original design have been made in order to avoid known archaeological sites and ensure they are not disturbed. He adds that the TNRD worked closely with local bands, especially Bonaparte First Nation, throughout the process.
While the Eco-Depot will be a full-service site for residential and commercial garbage, Vieira says it has been designed specifically to service the local communities.
“Particular attention has been paid to the fact that residents here don’t have curbside recycling, so it’s been designed to make it as easy as possible for people to come with recyclables. The site will accept garbage, but it’s uniquely designed to expect a large number of customers just to come in with recycling.
“Staff will be there to assist them and sort items, and there’s a completely separate area designated for recycling. You don’t have to wait in line with people bringing garbage; they’re two separate areas next door to each other. You drive through the recycling area, loop around, and carry on.”
A weigh scale at the site will provide a more accurate and equitable way of assessing fees for any loads of waste material or garbage that are brought to the site. “Right now fees are based on how big your vehicle is, but other sites do it by weight, which is the proper way of charging,” says Vieira. He adds that individual bag rates are still in place for small quantities of garbage from people without municipal garbage pickup.
The new site will have easier and safer access than the transfer station, via a fairly flat road that will be maintained in good condition, and not shared with large commercial trucks using the landfill. New services will include recycling of electronics and small appliances and the collection of residential hazardous waste such as paints, pesticides, anti-freeze, used motor oil from residential do-it-yourselfers, and more.
“All of the collection of household hazardous waste has spill protection, and is done within the recycling building on a concrete pad,” says Vieira. “There’s no processing of it on site; it’s just stored there and picked up by a waste disposal company.”
He adds that the TNRD is working with Encorp to get a bottle depot there. “We’re hoping that will happen with the new site, and are in talks, but it’s out of our control.”
Customers will be able to continue to pay with prepaid cards, but the site will have the ability to take credit and debit cards as well; a service not offered at the current transfer station. Vieira says there are no plans for an increase in the existing fees.