Back to top

Year-round household hazardous waste facility proposal on hold as it awaits flood-mitigation plan

The Nelson Leafs and the Regional District of Central Kootenay have pitched an idea to Nelson city council to allow them to set up a household hazardous waste handling and collection facility at their recycling centre on Silica Street. — Photo: City of Nelson

Hazardous waste collection might become a yearlong offering on the menu of recycling served up in the city if a proposal by the Nelson’s junior hockey team and the regional district gains some traction with municipal government.

The Nelson Leafs and the Regional District of Central Kootenay have pitched an idea to Nelson city council to allow them to set up a handling and collection facility at their recycling centre on Silica Street.

The idea would be to accept household hazardous waste (HHW) — such as cleaning products, oil filters and automotive paints — throughout the year and would be stored until shipping at a safe and secure storage container, outside of the two times per year the items are currently accepted.

The two specially modified shipping containers would be located in the front yard of the 120 Silica Street site where the Leafs currently operate a recycling centre. However, the idea requires a bylaw exemption as the Zoning Bylaw prohibits recycling facilities in the front yard.

Council had approved the idea but only on a one-year trial basis, contingent upon the Leafs developing a flood-mitigation plan for the containers, ensuring its contents would not find their way into the waters of nearby Cottonwood Creek.

The 120 Silica Street site is located in a floodplain, approximately 26 metres from a creek and 24 m. from a storm drain. But the Leafs have proposed placement of the containers as far away from the creek and storm drain as possible, said Nicole Ward, a consultant hired by the Leafs to develop the project.

They have also submitted a health and safety plan to manage the HHW, which includes procedures for spills and accidents.

Coun. Jesse Woodward said a full functional flood-mitigation plan would be key to salve council’s concerns over such a facility close to the water way and to Cottonwood market.

“So what happens at that site in case of a flood?” he asked, noting the proposal lacked assurances in that regard.

Ward said a plan would be developed and brought back to council for further review.

The proposal also did not align with the city’s Railtown Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan (SNAP), which envisioned the location to be redeveloped into residential and commercial development with active uses at the street level.

“From an urban design perspective, these types of facilities should be located in the rear yard or in a discrete location to promote a pedestrian-friendly environment,” noted the city staff report to council. “However, due to the existing site configuration, the only available space to locate the containers is in the front yard.”

But the trial period would give the city a chance to review the “proposal a year after the containers have been installed and ensure that the environmental concerns noted have been adequately addressed,” noted the report.

• The need for handling HHW

The Nelson Leafs are a non-profit organization that operates a recycling centre at 120 Silica Street. In addition to refundable bottles and electronics, the Nelson Leafs Recycling Depot also accepts materials stewarded under the ReGeneration program.

The material currently accepted at the recycling centre includes paint products, paint aerosols, flammable liquids, pesticides and gasoline.

Round-up events have been co-hosted by the Leafs and the regional district on an annual basis to provide an opportunity for people to dispose of household hazardous waste not accepted by the ReGeneration program.

But the demand for the Nelson event was so great in 2017 that a number of residents had to be turned away and a second event was held, noted a Leafs’ request to city council.

With the Leafs proposal to manage the HHW program for Nelson and the surrounding area to allow year-round collection, storage and handling of the waste, there would be a formalizing of the collection already taking place, allowing the Leafs to receive compensation from the RDCK for the service, and provide HHW training to its employees.

In June the regional district agreed to fund the Nelson Leaf’s year-round HHW containers for three years, with the option to renew, along with plansto eventually manage all of Nelson’s recycling and stewardship programs through an Eco-Depot.

Of further concern

Nelson Fire and Rescue Services had the following concerns with the proposed location of the facility:

  • Once the location becomes known by small businesses, commercial drops offs will steadily increase. Distinguishing between HHW and commercial hazardous waste can be difficult. Signage may or may not deter these drop-offs.
  • Individuals and businesses will drop off products after hours, some without product identification. Products left outside have the potential to leak, be knocked over or subject to weather conditions causing potential for contamination.
  • There will be times when products will arrive in inadequate containers potentially resulting in ground contamination.
  • The location of HHW sheds/shipping containers should not be near waterways or storm drainage intakes. Products that spill have the potential to end up in the storm system or Cottonwood Creek, especially following heavy rainfalls.
  • There should be a number of HHW drop off locations opened and promoted throughout the region at the same time, not just one in Nelson. Without other locations planned, Nelson will service a large catchment area, which could include areas well beyond Areas E and F.

— Source: City of Nelson