Some of Abbotsford’s household garbage will be heading as far south as Oregon beginning next month.
The City of Abbotsford’s agreement with Metro Vancouver to dispose of waste solely at a Cache Creek landfill expires at the end of October, and garbage will soon be headed to five different locations: two in Oregon, one in southern Washington, and two in British Columbia.
The end of the previous deal was partly initiated by Metro Vancouver’s waste reduction strategy. In an effort to encourage recycling, the regional district slashed drop-off rates at recycling plants but raised them at landfills. The per-tonne rate at the Matsqui Transfer Station, where Abbotsford deposited its garbage on the way to Cache Creek, was expected to rise by 50 per cent over the next three years.
Metro Vancouver had hoped to secure compliance with their pro-recycling policies by passing a bylaw that would ban garbage collectors within its borders (which stop at Langley) from hauling waste to cheaper landfills outside the regional district’s jurisdiction.
In the face of Metro’s uncertain rates, Abbotsford council began to court other suitors to collect the city’s garbage. They signed a contract with First Class Waste Services, a private waste disposal company, in October 2014.
When the agreement was signed, City of Abbotsford staff expected it would save them up to $302,000 per year if Metro Vancouver raised their rates as expected.
But shortly afterward, the provincial government rejected the Metro Vancouver bylaw. More trash began to flow to cheaper private drop-off facilities. Last month, Metro Vancouver announced a flat rate of $100 per tonne for municipal waste at all drop-off sites.
City of Abbotsford spokesperson Katherine Treloar said the city won’t release the per-tonne rate with First Class, but said it still offers savings in comparison to the Metro Vancouver fees. First Class’ publicly listed rate for private customers at its Abbotsford transfer station is $98 per tonne of garbage.
The city picked up approximately 7,700 tonnes of garbage from curbside collection in 2014.
Rather than hauling to just one landfill, First Class uses several in order to get the best prices. Five will be used for City of Abbotsford waste: Cache Creek, Chilliwack, the Roosevelt Landfill in southern Washington, and Columbia Ridge and Wenatchee in Oregon. Council has decided all of these landfills are sufficiently environmentally sound.
During the city’s discussion of the issue with Metro Vancouver, another point of contention was Metro’s plan to move toward incinerating more garbage in the future. Abbotsford councillors opposed such a move, citing worries about incinerator emissions settling into the low-lying Fraser Valley.
Roosevelt Landfill, Wenatchee Landfill and Cache Creek collect or plan to collect landfill gas, which is mainly methane and carbon dioxide, to burn for electrical energy.
The Matsqui Transfer Station, on Valley Road, will close Nov. 1. Extra household trash, non-hazardous industrial waste and large waste items such as mattresses can be brought to the First Class transfer station at 933 Coutts Way, or the Progressive transfer station at 34321 Industrial Way.