The use and abuse of transfer stations in the Columbia Valley could cost residents and weekenders more than they bargained for in the future.
Some people have been bringing waste from their yards and gardens, as well as construction and demolitions, to transfer sites throughout the region in spite of the fact that transfer sites are exclusively intended for residential garbage.
A lot of people dont realize that to dump household garbage at the Windermere Landfill is free, said District of Invermere mayor Gerry Taft. With that in mind, theres really no excuse for people to misuse dumpster bins in town and dispose of garbage in an improper way, or to use other commercial bins.
An extra two or three minutes to drive to the landfill is really not unreasonable to expect of people to deal with the issue properly.
He added there are regulations at the Windermere Landfill to help minimize conflicts with wildlife.
The Windermere Solid Waste Management site has procedures in place, such as putting covers on the bins every day to prevent wildlife from getting into the garbage, said Mr. Taft, noting the goal is to help improve life for humans and animals in the valley. Its a better place for people to dispose of large items because trying to put some large items into the dumpster bin well, its just not the right place to do it.
Mr. Taft added there will be a strong security presence in the Columbia Valley this fall when bears are more active to ensure people are respecting each garbage disposal location. Invermeres transfer station is located in the Industrial Park and is for household waste only.
We dont want to create an even worse problem for habituated bears in town, concluded Mr. Taft.
Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) environmental services manager Kevin Paterson agreed said regions having access to unsupervised transfer stations was rare in B.C.
The East Kootenay is rather unique in that we provide unmanned, free-access to our transfer facilities, said Mr. Paterson. Its quite uncommon. Throughout the province, most of the sites are manned or gated for certain hours that they are available we rely on the public to help us keep the sites tidy.
Although RDEK staff visit valleys rural transfer sites during the week, Mr. Paterson acknowledges that keeping the sites clean and open without staff requires support from the entire Columbia Valley.
The rural sites such as Edgewater, Brisco, Fairmont (there is also one in Canal Flats) those transfer sites are intended for residential household waste only, said Mr. Paterson. Any of the larger waste, being yard and garden waste, lawn cuttings, construction and demolition waste really should be going to our landfill in the Columbia Valley because, if we receive it there, then oftentimes we can divert some of those materials and avoid burying them, but everything left at a rural transfer station or site gets buried so theres no opportunity to divert that.
He encourages people to sort through their garbage and bring it to the appropriate location for disposal.
In 2014, we removed 922 or roughly 1,000 tons (of garbage) out of Fairmont, concluded Mr. Paterson. Edgewater was 1,055 tons, Brisco was 285 tons, so if you add those, its 2,300 tons from those three (communities) alone.
Village of Radium Hot Springs mayor Clara Reinhardt is urging people to practise leaving only household garbage at the transfer sites in the Columbia Valley the nearest ones to Radium are the rural transfer station in Edgewater or the Windermere Landfill. She believes there is a risk of losing access to unsupervised transfer sites if the abuse of each location continues. Radium council is exploring alternative options to improve access to waste disposal programs.
The challenge is, if we went to supervised sites, our access would be limited because our cost would go up, said Ms. Reinhardt, noting the cost of staffing and construction of a suitable site would be substantial. There may come a time where that has to happen, but at this point, we have (Mr. Paterson) coming up to do a tour before the end of the summer and were looking forward to him looking at some of the sites and potential sites in Radium (to expand), as well as some of the challenges, Ms. Reinhardt said.
Tourism Radium manager Kent Kebe supports the direction being taken by Village of Radium Hot Springs council and has been working toward educating visitors on the right way when it comes to waste disposal.
Were supporting the village in their initiative to look at a possible transfer station in the village at some point down the road, said Mr. Kebe, noting the ideal situation would be to keep the current sites functioning as usual.