Landfill a money pit: municipal officials consider ‘a different business model’

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Times are hard in the waste management business, thanks to lower volumes. This translates into less money coming in, reported Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman at town council’s July 14 meeting. But the fixed costs don’t go down accordingly. This results in a bigger operating deficit, which has to be covered somehow.

The situation is leading to a reassessment of the whole operation, Warman said. M.D. councillor Brad Pearson had said much the same thing in his report to M.D. council on July 8.

“I think we need to look at our whole program,” Warman said. “The easiest option right now would be to send it somewhere else.”

But not really that easy, thanks to the ongoing costs of monitoring and maintenance, which must continue for 50 years after the closure of a landfill cell.

A side issue is the composting program. It is turning out to be more trouble than it is worth. So the commission has decided compostable stuff will still be collected, but it will go into (or onto) the main cell instead of being piled separately.

Recycling generally is becoming a money-loser, Warman said, thanks to offshore markets deciding they don’t want Canadian recyclables anymore. One reason they don’t – using the example of plastics – is because a lot of it is contaminated. If it was cleaned well enough at this end, it would be more acceptable at the other end.

There are no easy answers, to that or the general issue of a money-losing landfill.

“Maybe a different business model?” said Warman.

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