Solid waste costs down but director says remain too high

Annual costs of solid waste handling in the regional district are slated to drop under revised financial forecasts.

Director John Sternig, a vocal critic of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District's solid waste costs, said Monday he is pleased to see the revised numbers, calling them a start to a more affordable system.

The TNRD has circulated its five-year financial forecast. Sternig said last year's forecast placed annual costs at $8.4 million in the first year, ramping up to a fifth and final year of $9.4 million.

Among those costs are millions of dollars required for landfill closures in Chase, Clearwater and Barriere. Those facilities will be replaced by eco-depots - larger, manned transfer stations that also accept a wide range of recyclable material and yard waste.

Sternig said the latest forecast now places annual costs at a flat $8.4 million a year for the next five years.

Those costs are borne by taxpayers in small municipalities and rural areas. The City of Kamloops operates its own solid waste system at considerably less cost per capita.

Despite the savings, Sternig believes the regional solid waste system remains too expensive, underpinned by what he called grandiose eco-depots that could be scaled down and are unwanted, at least in Pritchard.

He also said a contract tendered to Belkorp for transfer station maintenance and waste hauling, which received a recent extension, is too expensive. Belkorp was the only bidder, in part, Sternig said, due to the fact many other firms weren't large enough to handle the complete contract.

"Our costs per head are multiples of other regions - we're three to four times higher. Everyone should be concerned."

Sternig said he also continues to push for better taxpayer protection from potential liabilities from a proposed expansion of Cache Creek landfill.

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