There is still no word from the Ministry of the Environment about the awarding of an operational certificate for the Cache Creek landfill extension, although Cache Creek mayor John Ranta remains hopeful that it will be granted in time to allow construction to start this summer.
“There’s no question that the Ministry of the Environment gets it that we need the operational certificate,” says Ranta, adding that the ministry is aware of the time frame. “We hope to hear before the end of July, as we need to order the liner system, and it’s an extensive bunch of work that needs to be done before the frost sets in.”
A holdup seems to be the Qualified Environmental Trust (QET) that has been in place for many years. The money in the trust is a form of insurance required to guarantee the environmental viability of a project, and will be used to generate funds to provide the monitoring activities necessary after the landfill closes.
The QET is held by the Ministry of Finance, which has recommended that Belkorp (the landfill’s owner) and the Village of Cache Creek instead switch to a surety bond. Ranta explains that the Ministry of Finance has indicated that since it holds the QET, while another government ministry (Environment) regulates the landfill, this could be a conflict of interest.
Ranta has spoken with the statutory approval officer for the operational certificate, A.J. Downie. “I’m sure he understands that timely approval is in our interest.” While the Ministry of Finance seems quite determined that that there will not be a QET for the landfill extension, Downie has advised that there is no regulation or legislation that prevents one.
“I can understand the concerns of the provincial government,” says Ranta, “but a QET will meet the needs of the landfill.” He hopes that the situation can be resolved by the Ministry of Finance making the Village of Cache Creek responsible for the funds, but is concerned that municipal governments cannot invest in the same range of areas as a private company, which would provide less return on the investment.
“We’d like to get some provision that allows the funds to be invested in a broader range of financial areas.”
The current landfill is set to close on December 31, 2016. Ranta, who is also chair of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, says that if the landfill closes, the TNRD will need to truck garbage from this area to one of the two other TNRD landfills (at Lower Nicola and Heffley Creek), at a cost of $500,000 per year.
If, a year later, there is still no landfill in Cache Creek, the TNRD will have to construct an Eco-Depot/transfer station there, at a cost of $750,000 to $1 million, while still paying $500,000 per year to remove the waste to another site.
Ranta hopes it does not come to that. “I’m hoping phase 1A of the landfill extension is operational by [December 31]. I hope the liner can go in, so that waste from the western portion of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District can still go there and save us $500,000 a year.”