Iqalungmiut flock to waste management meeting
Some Iqaluit residents are skeptical of the Town’s commitment to a new waste management plan.
IQALUIT — Iqalungmiut fed up with Iqaluit’s garbage mess tossed out suggestions to consultants hired to help fix the problem at a public meeting in Iqaluit last week.
Iqaluit’s first public meeting on waste management revealed a demand for a better garbage disposal system, and some skepticism about this latest round of planning.
“How committed is the Town in carrying out your report?” asked Mary Wilman, the chairperson of Nunavut Social Development Council, and a concerned Iqaluit resident.
One resident questioned how long it would take to put a plan into action.
“Will our new facility have to go through a thorough Water Board and NIRB (Nunavut Impact Review Board) and if so, what decade can we expect it?” Mike Hine asked.
The company hired by the municipality to solve the problem says a solution should be ready for public review by March, but representatives from J.L Richards and Associates couldn’t say exactly when such a plan would be approved.
“To expedite approval we propose they be part of the study so they know along the way,” said David Hunter, director of J.L. Richards & Associates Ltd.
Communication with agencies
Because they plan to stay in contact with government agencies throughout their study, their final recommendations should be approved quickly, Hunter said.
Generally it takes about 42 days to get NIRB approval, said Robin Johnstone, an environmental engineer with the firm Golder and Associates, which is working with J.L. Richards.
The consultants didn’t bring any proposals or suggestions for public perusal. Instead, they answered questions and outlined the steps they plan to take to tackle Iqaluit’s growing garbage problem.
Iqaluit now burns its garbage openly at the town dump. Residents, and various government agencies have called for an end to the open burning of garbage and the toxic fumes it produces. The dump is expected to reach capacity next year.
Last month, J.L. Richards and Golder Associates were awarded a $225,000 contract to come up with a new 20-year plan to deal with Iqaluit’s garbage.
But the approximately 50 Iqaluit residents in attendance demanded assurances that the latest waste management study will not sit on a shelf.
They also peppered the consultants with questions about reducing the amount of waste that residents pitch into the dump each year, and how much control they’ll have when deciding where a new dump or incinerator should be set up.
“People here know where it should be,” Wilman said.
One resident called for mandatory recycling to be imposed.
“If we’re going to be a capital, we should act like a capital and reduce the amount going into the landfill,” said Iqaluit resident Pitseolak Pfeifer. Pfeifer suggested a mandatory recycling law should be put into place ,and that Iqaluit could become a central receiving area for garbage from the other communities.
“That, I believe should be looked at,” Pfeifer said.
Resident Siu-Ling Han suggested that some of the costs of garbage disposal should be borne by major garbage producers to cover disposal costs.
But residents also realized that answering the the question of how Iqaluit disposes of its future garbage will depend on money.
“Ultimately, we’re going to get a facility to treat our waste that we as citizens can afford to buy. Have you been given a maximum?” Hine asked.
The Nunavut government has earmarked about $4 million for the project, and also footed the bill for the study, Iqaluit’s engineer Denis Bedard said.
But some options are more expensive than others. For example, receiving recyclables from other communities and shipping them south would be more expensive than having drop off boxes around town for local residents, said Hunter.
And should Iqaluit choose to have a new dump far away from the town, the costs of a new road would also have to be taken into account.
If the proposal includes a new dump, two or three potential sites may be suggested, said Hunter.
Other suggestions on how the Town can reduce the amount of garbage it creates and how to close three of Iqaluit’s dump are also expected. A cost analysis will also be included.
Hunter would not speculate on how much a new landfill site or incinerator would cost, but he said the final report will include ways the Town can implement recommendations in stages as more money becomes available.
If the study does suggest a new landfill site, the Town will have to commission more site specific studies on the suggested locations, Hunter said.
The Town is creating a steering committee of councillors, residents and staff to work with the consultants.