The Regional District of Central Kootenay says it needs to know within the next few weeks whether the City of Nelson will join a proposed regional curbside composting program.
But Nelson’s mayor says it’s going to be a hard sell based on what he’s seen and heard so far.
RDCK representatives made a pitch before city council this afternoon, indicating that they need an answer soon from Nelson on joining the program because an application to a federal/provincial infrastructure program is due by mid-May.
The grant would pay for two-thirds of the cost of the equipment for composting facilities in Creston and Salmo that would support a municipal curbside program expected to be in place by the end of 2022.
The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and Town of Creston have already signed on as partners while the City of Castlegar is still thinking about it.
“We have gone through a very extensive process to get to where we are,” RDCK resource recovery manager Amy Wilson said. “We’ve looked at ways to bring organics diversion to rural and urban residents.
“The plan has looked at ways to capture the most [organic] diversion. We went through all sorts of assessment to come up with a type of facility that would be the most efficient and we find the program we’re suggesting is very defensible.”
But Mayor John Dooley said he’s skeptical given the rough figures presented to the city and doesn’t want to be forced to make a decision based on a grant deadline.
“I wouldn’t want to say there hasn’t been fair process, but it sounds like it’s being driven by a grant application. I know from experience that’s one of the worst things that can happen to you. Grants can be a blessing and a curse.
“This is a major shift for the municipality and our waste collection system has been very good to date. We still haven’t even explored the potential opportunity of having organics dealt with at home. There are probably a number of ways we could approach that. I think there’s an opportunity for a made-in-Nelson solution.”
Dooley also said he was surprised to learn the Salmo landfill is being proposed for a composting facility, as during previous terms he worked to have the site permanently closed due to ongoing environmental problems.
However, Wilson responded that they are not concerned about further impacts on the site, as leachate from the compost will be collected in a pond and recirculated back into the compost.
Wilson said while Nelson’s participation is preferable, if the city opts out, the Salmo facility will still proceed so long as Castlegar joins. If Nelson decides to join later, it could expect to face higher costs.
Only councillor Brittny Anderson indicated support for joining the program, while other councillors asked questions but didn’t state their preference.