Residents hopeful the Town of Canmore will relocate its waste transfer station away from residential neighbourhoods this year will have to wait a bit longer.
Canmore council gave its stamp of approval to a $95,000 waste feasibility study last week, which is expected to be complete sometime this summer.
The study, said manager of public works Andreas Comeau, should be done before administration makes any recommendations on how and where to relocate the waste transfer site currently in Elk Run.
“The waste transfer station relocation would be in a holding pattern until we have the opportunity to do this review,” he said. “At this point, I don’t think it would make much sense to relocate the waste transfer station and incur additional costs for something different.”
The Town has access to a site adjacent to the wastewater treatment plant that can house waste management infrastructure and Comeau said the feasibility study would identify options for dealing with both municipal solid waste and biosolids.
“We have an opportunity to investigate a sustainable option for how we deal with waste on this site, hence investigation of an energy from waste facility,” he said.
While council voted unanimously to support the terms of reference document for the study, Councillor Hans Helder expressed concern it holds up dealing with the current waste transfer station.
“I will vote in favour of this report moving forward with the understanding it will come back to council with more information to help us make a decision,” Helder said. “The concern I have is it puts on hold the relocation of the waste transfer station… that debate can wait until we have information on the table.”
Comeau said Canmore would show civic leadership in dealing with waste within its borders as opposed to shipping it across the province.
He suggested the result of a local energy from waste facility would reduce the town’s carbon footprint by 252 tonnes in carbon dioxide generated annually by shipping garbage and biosolids out of the region.
The study’s goal is to investigate options and alternatives for locally managing both municipal solid waste and biosolids.
The study will review energy from waste technology options, conduct a business case review of the most suitable method for managing both waste streams and include a regulatory review.
Currently, Canmore’s residential waste is collected and transferred to the BFI landfill site in southeast Calgary. The cost in 2011 is $87 per tonne, but Comeau warned by 2015 administration expects that cost to double to $165 per tonne.
The Town has had a difficult time finding a permanent solution for its biosolids ever since the agricultural program at Bowden Correctional Facility was cancelled by the federal government.
Presently, the Town ships treated sewage generated at the wastewater treatment plant to a composting facility near Penhold at a cost per tonne of $150 for hauling and disposal. With close to 3,000 processed tonnes a year, that adds up to an annual cost of $450,000 to ship biosolids outside the community.
At the same time Canmore begins investigating energy from waste technologies, the Southern Alberta Energy from Waste Association (SAEWA) is moving forward with a proposal to locate a regional facility.
Comeau indicated that Canmore’s investigation is specific to this municipality only.
MD of Bighorn Councillor and member of the Bow Valley Waste Management Commission Paul Ryan sits as vice-chair on the SAEWA board.
At the most recent waste commission meeting, Ryan brought up the fact the regional project is moving forward with a business plan, bylaws and studies to develop energy from waste technology on a large scale that would result in electrical generation to the power grid.
Comeau had indicted to council that the Canmore solution would not result in co-generation, or generation of electricity into the grid.
Instead, he said, energy created in the form of heat would likely be used to treat biosolids at the facility.
Ryan also brought up the fact the commission has $1 million from the province to build a regional waste transfer site.
“My concern is we have money sitting there from the province for a facility,” he said.
Ryan asked if the commission should consider using the funds for a different regional facility because of concerns Alberta Environment make take the money back.
The MD of Bighorn is also embarking on a lime stabilization pilot project to treat biosolids with lime kiln dust (LKD) and use the resulting material for reclamation of quarries in the area. It is a project being undertaken in conjunction with Graymont.
Comeau said that pilot would need regulatory approval and he said that is at least five years away.
He said the Town of Canmore is amenable to other options as they arise.