Wednesday, February 23, 2005 Link To Herald The Halifax Herald Limited

Guysborough to get CBRM trash

By TERA CAMUS / Cape Breton Bureau

SYDNEY - Cape Breton Regional Municipality voted 9-8 Tuesday to begin trucking its garbage to a landfill in Guysborough County starting next year.

The decision means a new tipping fee will be imposed on local businesses to offset the municipality's estimated $1-million trucking and fuel cost to reach the site. The round trip is seven hours.

Businesses, already among the top commercial ratepayers in the province, will be charged $68 to $80 per tonne of solid waste generated annually over the 20-year life of the contract. Their tipping fees are expected to generate $2.7 million annually.

Council's decision to truck 73,000 tonnes annually to Guysborough will also affect 30 unionized people now working at Sydney's municipal incinerator on Grand Lake Road. They will be offered early retirement or bump others within the union ranks.

According to officials, the dramatic shift in solid waste management was prompted by a tighter crackdown and many compliance orders from the province on air quality and emissions.

Kevin MacDonald, manager of public works, said upgrades to the incinerator are pegged at $13 million - out of reach for the cash-strapped municipality.

As for looking in the region for a new site similar to the one in Guysborough, he said staff didn't do that, given the politics.

"I haven't heard anybody say they are willing to deal with a landfill in their district," he said at one point in the five-hour debate.

Since 1999, the incinerator, despite millions of dollars in upgrades, has had many problems. In 2002, levels of potentially deadly dioxins and furans measured in the air were five times higher than the acceptable provincial limit.

But the province extended its $1-million contract at the municipal incinerator until next spring. The Health Department is coming up with a new plan to handle more than two million tonnes of biomedical waste.

Mayor John Morgan, who voted against the motion, agreed tipping fees will offset the costs, "but the problem with escalating fuel costs means escalating tipping fees."

He said councillors should first have looked locally for a location.

Coun. Vince Hall, who supported the motion, said the decision will mean a difference of only $200,000 to the municipality's bottom line.

But other councillors disagreed, mentioning the unknown elements of fuel and trucking prices. "We could have and can completely outsource our management of solid waste," he said. "I don't think we have the will or capacity to site a second-generation landfill in ... CBRM."

For every year of the agreement, the cost will average $11 million to 13 million annually.