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Halifax council extends landfill contract while it waits to dump processor

Timberlea-Beechville-Clayton Park Coun. Iona Stoddard voted against contract extension

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caption Garbage is seen in a dumpster at Otter Lake landfill on Nov. 6.
Abel Rangel

Council has voted to extend its contract with Mirror Nova Scotia Limited while it waits for provincial approval to modify processing at its landfill.

Mirror Nova Scotia has the contract to operate the Otter Lake landfill, where HRM’s household waste is deposited.

Halifax regional council voted on Tuesday to extend the contract with Mirror until December 2022.

Extending contract timelines means the city will have to pay $35 more than usual, jumping from a price set at $135 to $170 per tonne of trash. The facility receives an estimate of 40,000 tonnes per year.

Council voted in July to apply to the province in order to deactivate Otter Lake’s Front End Processor (FEP) and its Waste Stabilization Facility (WSF). The FEP and WSF work in tandem to separate trash and to sort out unwanted items.

This has been a topic of ongoing discussion, as not everyone is onboard with the idea of deactivating the facility.

caption Part of the sorting facilities at the Otter Lake landfill is seen on Nov. 6.
Abel Rangel

Members of the communities of Timberlea and Beechville oppose deactivation. Some of these members sit on the Community Monitoring Committee, a formal organization to oversee, and if necessary, push back on Otter Lake’s landfill-related issues.

In a letter written to council, the monitoring committee explained that its biggest concern is the Otter Lake Waste Facility will be overloaded with garbage that is not “acceptable waste.” This means garbage that is not residential but also industrial and commercial. The group claims adding anything other than acceptable waste will likely lead to vermin, odours and contamination.

A staff report stated there is no harm induced to the environment, or the nearby communities should the facility be deactivated.

Nova Scotia Environment is currently assessing the city’s application to deactivate the facilities, and this is estimated to take several months. The municipality sees extending contract timelines as a way to keep the facility functioning while the assessment is being carried out.

The municipality is conducting public consultation so residents living close to the facility can voice their opinion. An ongoing survey will be available until Dec. 3.

“This is an opportunity to keep business as usual with Mirror,” Coun. Pam Lovelace said during the meeting at City Hall. “I think the staff report has been quite clear, and I ask my colleagues to support this motion.”

Coun. Iona Stoddard represents the area, and she was the sole vote against contract extension.

Andrew Philopoulos, the director of solid waste resources at Halifax Regional Municipality, explained Mirror has agreed to the amended timelines. Stoddard questioned Philopoulos about the difference in prices.

“The price of tonnage of $135 has been raised to $170 per tonne, commencing Jan. 1, 2022. I’m wondering why the contract, or the amendment to this contract, has the difference of $35?” Stoddard asked.

Philopoulos explained the fee of $170 included the use of the FEP and the WSF, while the $135 did not. He confirmed once deactivation happens, the standard fee will be $135.

“No. I do not think the money is worth it,” Stoddard said in an interview prior to questioning Philopoulos. “We’re going to pay an increased rate for a service that didn’t need to stop.”

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About the author

Abel Rangel

Abel Rangel is a screenwriter and journalist working and living in Halifax, N.S. He earned a master’s degree in transgender studies at New...

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