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Organic waste strategy opt-in deadline delivered to city by regional district

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
May 6th, 2019

The regional district has set down a deadline for the city to decide if it will opt in to the regional composting program.

By May 10 the Regional District of Central Kootenay will be looking for Nelson city council to answer the bell on the Organics Waste Diversion Strategy, a program that has been pending for over one year.

The regional district is hoping the city will partner with them on the strategy — bringing curbside composting to the city by 2022 — calling for the construction of a regional-scale compost facility at both the Creston and Central (Salmo) landfills.

Amy Wilson, the RDCK’s resource recovery manager, asked council at its last committee-of-the-whole meeting to consider a decision on joining the program, one which comes with a price tag.

“Tipping fees are intended to fully fund operational, annualized capital and asset management costs,” she said.

Organic waste at the Central facility was estimated at $65-$75 per ton (composting only), while it is $95-$110 per ton at the Grohman Narrows Transfer station (composting and transfer). 

But, in applying full cost recovery to other waste materials, it is expected that by 2022 the mixed waste rate would be approximately $125 per ton.

Currently, Nelsonites pay $40 each year per household to fund the garbage pickup service provided by the city, as well as a $1.50 charge for a single garbage tag.

Although council was not in a position to vote on the matter at the meeting, it is likely the city may continue with its own course of action initiated in January: setting up a public education program and a pilot project for household composting in Nelson.

That project could be fully developed when the city goes to purchase a new garbage truck over the next year — one that could accept recycling, garbage and composting.

The regional district’s program would include organic material collected curbside in the municipalities of Nelson, Castlegar and Creston, along with the agricultural and industrial, commercial and institutional sectors.

The Organics Infrastructure Program (OIP) is a multi-level government grant opportunity the regional district is pursuing to fund up to two thirds of the compost facilities’ construction costs, noted Wilson in her presentation to city council.

However, the OIP grant funds must be spent by 2022, meaning the RDCK will have to have operational compost facilities by 2022 or sooner.

Under the strategy, municipalities would be responsible for curbside collection of organics and the regional district would be responsible for the composting process, Wilson said. 

Joining on to the strategy — supported currently by the Town of Creston and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary — is aligned with the city’s own Path to 2040 Sustainability Strategy, noted a city staff report to council, with the Sustainability Strategy Solid Waste Objective No. three encouraging “local composting and reuse of organic material.” 

Although a functional organic waste diversion strategy would divert organics from landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, if the city were to partner with the regional district to implement the strategy, “it would require significant staff resources to take on the curbside collection of organics in the city,” the report read.

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