Costs of Landfill Decommissioning
Whereas the Government of Saskatchewan is working to reduce the number of small waste disposal sites and move to larger, regional landfills; and
Whereas 300 to 400 of these small waste disposal sites are in communities of less than 500 people, who cannot afford the $300,000 to $500,000 cost of decommissioning; and
Whereas most infrastructure grants are based on population and are woefully insufficient when communities are faced with project costs of this magnitude; and
Whereas the cost of complying with the current set of environmental requirements being strictly enforced will bankrupt otherwise viable, small communities; and
Whereas the majority of these landfills have small environmental footprints, having received less garbage than large communities will receive in a week's time, and should not be held to the same standards;
Therefore be it resolved that the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association advocate with the Ministry of Environment to use a sliding scale, based on population, when enforcing environmental guidelines used to decommission existing landfills, or provide financial and/or technical assistance to encourage compliance under the existing guidelines.
The government understand the challenge associated with the closing a landfill, including the change and sense of loss this causes to local residents. We also understand the pressures created from landfill regulatory requirements and the financial commitment necessary to close or convert them. When closure is the optimal alternative, we jointly recognize the importance of protecting human health and the environment, particularly source water, through following the proper closure and decommissioning procedures. The ministry's commitment is to work with all interested municipalities on the short-term physical closure aspects and allow, where it is safe to do so, the decommissioning plan to occur over an agreed to timeframe. Municipalities could also incorporating decommissioning of existing landfills into regional project funding proposals related to regional landfill development.
A Solid Waste Advisory Team (SWAT) has been created with the goal of connecting communities that need help reaching compliance with those that have successfully implemented changes within their solid waste management programs. Sharing learning, support and leadership through this connection will increase awareness and understanding among all communities on ways that compliance can, and has, been successfully achieved.