UPDATED: Ottawa’s host municipality agreement with Waste Management up for discussion at FEDCO

Entrance to the Carp Road Landfill

(Entrance gate to the Waste Management Carp Road landfill. Photo: Stittsville Central)

At the FEDCO meeting held on September 7, 2021, the Committee approved an agreement with Waste Management for their planned landfill site at the West Carleton Environmental Centre on Carp Road. To compensate neighbouring communities for the burden of hosting an active landfill, the agreement would reduce the landfill’s service area and require Waste Management to collect fees per metric tonne of waste deposited each year at the site – fees that would be used to benefit the neighbouring communities. Staff would report back in the first quarter of 2022 with recommendations on how the collected fees might be used.

The Draft Host Municipality Agreement between Waste Management (WM) and Ottawa will be discussed at the September 7, 2021 Finance & Economic Development Committee (FEDCO). What does this mean for Stittsville? This is the next phase for WM that would allow for the expansion of the Carp Road landfill. Should this be approved, WM would be permitted to accept a larger, wider range of waste materials at the landfill that would include construction and demolition waste, contaminated soil, along with residential waste from a large percentage of Ontario at a reduced rate. In 2013, the Carp Road landfill was approved by the Province for expansion in which the City had no say as it was a done deal.

The Carp Road landfill expansion has been opposed for years by residents and organizations, as well as the Stittsville Village Association. Stittsville has expanded since the Environmental Assessment was written in 2014 and an update is required to reflect the increase in population and usage. Compensation to our community, lower than anticipated, should be reviewed and provided accordingly from when the landfill was originally approved. It should reflect the increased amount of waste accepted in the landfill from around the province. The negotiated agreement includes an annual host community fee of $3.35 per tonne of waste collected at the landfill, with an additional $1.00 per tonne going to the City. No action stops the expansion, but the community should be aware and make their comments known at this time about compensation and greener actions. It is anticipated that WM may ask for another expansion in the future!

(The proposed ‘user area’ for the Carp Road landfill that Waste Management is proposing to FEDCO on September 7, 2021. Graphic: City of Ottawa)

In speaking with Phil Sweetnam, former President of the Carp Landfill Community Liaison Committee (CLCLC), and a concerned resident, he provided the following to Stittsville Central. “Since it took six years to prepare this agreement, it would be appropriate to allow the community six to eight weeks to respond. However, below are some initial impressions of this agreement.

Those who created the agreement do not believe there are detrimental effects on the community. However, the Waterloo Regional Landfill Engineer, Jon Arsenault, said that in spite of best efforts there inevitably are some burps that will send landfill gas into the adjacent community. That has certainly been Ottawa’s experience at the Trail Road landfill! The adjacent Barrhaven community was very vocal regarding the obnoxious odour! Definitely, there needs to be fair compensation for the communities that will have to tolerate a landfill in their midst.

“Therefore, the major shortfall of the proposed West Carleton Environmental Centre Municipal Host Agreement to the Finance and Economic Development Committee is the undervaluing of the host fees at $3.35/tonne, plus $1.00/tonne for soil cover and $.05/tonne for local initiatives. Seventy percent goes to the local communities and 30% goes to the City. Each of the five host wards will receive about $199,000 per year.

A slight move towards a fairer host benefit cost of just $5.00/tonne would move the ward benefit to $291,000 each. Being close to their customers means the WM truck that picks up the waste can go directly to the landfill site and does not have to put the waste into a larger vehicle to move it a long distance to the landfill. Surely, the benefit that WM enjoys of not having to truck the waste out into the country means that Ottawa, and the local communities where the landfill site is located, can receive a larger and fairer compensation.  Another advantage is that the leachate is pumped to Ottawa sewers rather than requiring a truck to take the leachate to a sewage treatment centre. A final advantage is that WM can continue to employ their several million dollar landfill gas conversion to electrical energy facility to treat the methane gas created at the new site.

Another concern is that there is no consideration of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In my company’s experience, it is important that price in contracts increase in keeping with the CPI. We have not found great resistance to this concept even with larger companies. It is a major deficiency in this proposed agreement that the host fee does not increase with the CPI. 

My comments to the authors of the report are that there are perceived and real effects on the community. Every whiff of odour reminds visitors and residents that this is a community with a landfill. The agreement leaves the impression that the proposed agreement was directed by US managers who will attempt to impose American Standards on this site. In reality, settlements in Canada are higher than in the US. The authors of this agreement should quote Prime Minister Treadeau to WM officials ! “You will need to pay if you want to pollute!” In other words, it should cost to leave your junk and waste in our community. 

The Essex Windsor site Host Community fee adjusted to in 2018 was $5.90/tonne. That would be over $6.00/tonne in 2021.

The President of the Stittsville Village Association, Tanya Hein, shared with Stittsville Central, “the community compensation is less than I’d hoped, particularly given the scale of the service area and in an era in which we should be moving away from landfill. I’m also not confident that we won’t be seeing a near-future push to accept waste from outside the defined service area, as was outlined earlier in the process.

I’m disappointed Waste Management gets a say in how community money can be spent and credited as a co-sponsor for projects that come from the host community fee and local initiatives amount. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”

The Stittsville Village Association will be submitting comments on behalf of the community to the FEDCO meeting on September 7th.

Harold Moore, CLCLC, along with the Coalition for Landfill Accountability (COLA) colleagues have been fighting the expansion of the Carp Road landfill for well over 10 years. In Harold’s comments submitted to FEDCO for the September 7 meeting, he wrote that he wants to know “Why is the new Host Municipality Agreement service area so much larger?” He emphasized that the Ontario Environmental Assessment website https://www.ontario.ca/page/west-carletonenvironmental-centre, updated July 8, 2021, states that the new landfill “will primarily serve Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (IC&I) and residential waste generators from the City of Ottawa and the Good Neighbour Zone, which includes surrounding communities mainly within Lanark County.”

In the Environmental Assessment Waste Management argued strongly for a local waste disposal solution to reduce Green House Gas emissions from long haul transport of waste. Now there is a service area for the new landfill that can receive garbage transported nearly 500 kms. How does this fit with the City of Ottawa Climate crisis action plan and GHG emissions targets?

Harold emphasized in his comments to FEDCO, “compensation amounts paid to the city are too low relative to the acceptance of garbage from such a large service area (94,000 Sq. Km.). The Community Initiatives funding is lower than in the 2001 agreement.” “If WM has not made annual contributions to the Community Initiatives Fund as per the 2001 agreement since the old landfill closed in 2011, then all outstanding contributions must be made before termination of the 2001 agreement.” An amount of $1,000,000 provided to WM when they set-up the Community Initiatives FundMoore feels this is owed to the community. He also wants to see more transparency and accountability as to how these funds are managed.”

He told Stittsville Central, “my fear is that this will not be the final expansion. During the Environmental Assessment we asked WM to assure the community this would be the last and they would not. It is always easier to get approval for an expansion than a new landfill. There are many things wrong or lacking from this draft agreement. It looks like they used much of the 2001 agreement as a template for this one and we all know how bad the 2001 agreement was.”

In Councillor Gower’s recent blog about Waste Management and their appearance at FEDCO, he stated, “at committee next week I will be asking staff to explain why the compensation rate and other conditions are considered appropriate and fair. What comparables did they consider, and how did they determine that this is an appropriate amount of compensation to offset the impacts of a landfill operating near our community?

The City has negotiated to reduce the collection area for the landfill. Originally, Waste Management received approval from the Ontario government to accept waste from the entire province. Under the contract, Waste Management would limit that service area to include only parts of north and east Ontario.

Residents and community associations have been engaged for more than a decade through various stages of the approval process. The money would be used to fund various community projects. As a resident, one of my chief concerns was adding more transparency to how these funds are used, and I look forward to being involved as we create a new process to ensure fairness and accountability in the management of the funds,” concluded the Councillor.

The draft West Carleton Environmental Centre Municipal Host Agreement can be viewed through the link here. The draft Host Municipality Agreement can be viewed at this link.

It is obvious that Waste Management wants the draft agreement approved by FEDCO, the moving it along to Council for final approval. It would seem that they are attempting to avoid an Official Plan amendment, while a new landfill is at the back of Waste Management’s mind.

You can provide formal comments to FEDCO or register to speak at the committee by contacting Committee Coordinator Carole Legault at 613-580-2424 x28934 or by email CaroleA.Legault@ottawa.ca.


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