City votes to buy garbage crusher

Compactor would reduce trash to barrel-sized parcels to be buried underground, and end open burning



What Iqaluit environmentalist Paul Crowley tried to do using the law, city council will do with a $125,000 compactor.

City council unanimously passed a motion on Tuesday to purchase a trash compactor to crush solid waste so it can be stored underground.

The three-year, lease-to-own deal should end the open burning of garbage at Iqaluit’s dump.

Nunavut is one of few Canadian jurisdictions still using open burning as a method of waste reduction.

Last fall, Crowley launched a hard-fought but unsuccessful court case to stop the city from torching the city’s burgeoning landfill. He said he will reinitiate court proceedings should the city fail to stop burning by October 2002.

“For now I’m guardedly optimistic. I’ll start celebrating when they stop burning,” Crowley said.

The city appears to agree.

“The goal is to stop all burning,” said Steven Burden, the city’s acting director of engineering. “However, we may be running out of time.”

The city has less than two months to select the successful contractor and get the compactor on the last sealift to Iqaluit in September.

Although confident the wheels are in motion, Burden told council “time is of the essence.”

Last year, the city’s eight-person solid waste management committee discussed building an incinerator. They quickly dropped the idea, however, because the equipment would have carried a multi-million-dollar price tag.

A compactor crushes solid waste into barrel-sized parcels. The parcels are stored in the ground and covered with earth to prevent scavenging and spillage. Burning will stop a week before the compactor starts.

Before the three-year lease expires, council may buy the compactor or switch to yet another form of waste reduction. Another alternative is adopting the shredding and bailing method used in Yellowknife.

Council also approved funding for Trow Consulting to monitor the new compactor system. And $25,000 was approved to undertake a “waste audit.” The one-week audit is an archeological poke at the contents of Iqaluit’s dump. The information gathered will be used to improve the city’s recycling program.

What drew the most debate, though, was Councillor Stu Kennedy’s suggestion the city consider privatizing commercial garbage pick-up. His motion called for the city to meet with the Iqaluit Chamber of Commerce to determine the level of interest.

Councillor Kirt Ejesiak questioned the motion, saying the Chamber of Commerce was “self-fulfilling and not reflective of all businesses.”

Kennedy stressed the motion is a preliminary step.

“The idea is to open dialogue, not hand over responsibility. This is not a commitment,” Kennedy said. “It’s turning over the responsibility of the job to the parties it affects.”

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