Waste debate
Garbage discussed at public meeting

Malcolm Gorrill
Northern News Services

Iqaluit ( May 29/00) - How to handle garbage was the topic at a public meeting attended by about 20 people recently in Iqaluit.

Those in attendance heard a presentation by Dave Hunter, an engineer with J.L. Richards and Associates Ltd., which has been hired by the town to explore waste management options for Iqaluit for the next 20 years.

Iqaluit's existing landfill is expected to reach capacity by June 2001.

Hunter explained three viable options for residents. All three involve a new landfill. One option called for increased emphasis on the three R's -- namely, reduce, reuse and recycle.

Hunter said another option was to combine a new landfill with increased diversion (the three R's), plus centralized composting. He said composting could reduce the amount of material going into a landfill by 20 per cent, thus allowing the site to be used longer.

Another option called for increased diversion to a landfill, and an incinerator -- which Hunter explained could reduce the amount of material going into a landfill by 80-90 per cent.

Hunter invited questions from the audience and then spoke to reporters after the meeting.

"I don't think there was any clear opinion expressed by the public this evening, other than they're open to the various alternatives that were presented tonight," Hunter said.

"The final decision is one the council is going to have to make. They're going to have to wrestle with the various merits of the three alternatives, cost being one.

"In the case of a landfill site and the criteria associated with where that site should be located, there are some significant costs in terms of maintaining year-round access."

Hunter had explained that, according to regulations, the new landfill could not be placed within certain exclusionary zones. These include three kilometres within the airport, 100 metres within a body of water, and 250 metres within built-up areas (residences or businesses).

"As I understand now, the water board licence requires the municipality (of Iqaluit) to develop a long-term waste management plan. So this is the first step," Hunter said.

"We'll identify a plan at the end of this planning exercise, and the municipality will have to make a decision as to what option they want to pursue, and then subsequent to that, they'll have to undertake an investigation," he said.

"If you do end up with a landfill site, it's clear the public doesn't want to see a repeat of what you have presently. They're not interested in seeing open burning occur again. And there's no real reason why that has to happen."

This was the third public meeting held since J.L. Richards and Associates Ltd. started this project in November 1999.

The company is expected to submit its report, which will include public comments and the recommended waste management system, to council by the end of June.