With an estimated lifespan of 10-12 years at the Scotch Line landfill, manager of waste facilities, Tara Stephen, told Minden Hills council Jan. 28 diversion will be the key going forward.

Council approved an updated draft design and operations report for the landfill, now submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) for approval.

The township has been working on the report to remedy the final outstanding compliance issue of leachate seeps on the south slope and redesign the transfer station layout to accommodate increased traffic and waste volumes.

In the short-term, the report calls for adjustments to operations while the new transfer station is constructed and includes: installation of solar power, construction of new access roads that will be paved or hardtopped, acceptance of textiles, application of final and interim cover where required, and allowances for new diversion programs.

In the long-term, it outlines how the site will operate once construction of the transfer station is complete, and how landfilling will occur in new phases of the site. It further adds a leaf and yard waste composting pad to allow for on-site composting of brush and leaves and the option to distribute the processed material to the community. It also adds a second scale in the new transfer station and redesigns the transfer area.

Stephen said the township is looking at $1.59 million in capital costs over the next couple of years and an extra $100,000 in operating costs over the next few years. Money is in the proposed 2021 budget. She said if the MECP seeks changes costing $10,000 or more, the department will come back to council.

Stephen said in her report the updated plan gives the site a 10-12-year lifespan.

Coun. Bob Carter asked, “Are we actively looking at ways that we can either utilize more of the site or use some other techniques to expand this beyond that timeframe?”

Stephen said they are, although they are restricted by geography. She said it may not be possible to physically expand the site further than the current footprint.

She said the key is diversion, or limiting the amount of waste on site.

“Right now, we have an extremely low diversion rate. We’re in the 30 to 40 per cent range for waste diversion. There is a lot of opportunity there for us to improve on that and the more ways we divert from landfill using our waste diversion programs, the longer that 12 years gets,” she said.

Coun. Jean Neville said she still wants the township to look into transferring waste outside of the township.

“I’m concerned. Ten to 12 years is not very long.” She added it was a lot of money to put into 10-12 years.

However, public works director, Travis Wilson, emphasized the transfer station will extend well beyond that timeframe.

Stephen reiterated that they are creating opportunities for increased diversion in the plan.

“Once we start investing in these diversion opportunities and educating the public about them, that’s when we’re going to start to see the lifespan of our landfill increase,” she said. She added if the public improves its habits, the life could extend to 15 to 20 years.

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