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Mayor’s Column – April 5, 2017

April 5, 2017


Garbage is a big item here in the North East as it is almost everywhere on earth. Happily, our systems work quite well for properly disposing of the unwanted stuff if we use the systems as we should. Many of us have travelled to parts of the world where garbage disposal is not as efficient and effective as it is here. Well, maybe effective but not efficient; the streets, highways, and hedges are littered and cluttered with paper, plastic, and other debris. Not what we want to see here, I think.

But there is a cost to cleanliness and order, an enormous cost. We are blessed to be able to pay the cost. Let me help you grasp the enormity of the bill for keeping our living space tidy.

The Peace River Regional District is charged with looking after our landfills, transfer stations, and transportation of solid waste (aka garbage) once it gets to the landfill or the transfer station. Within the District of Chetwynd creators of domestic solid waste have only to ensure it is securely in the little cart and on the street for pickup on the designated days. Commercial refuse goes in the big dumpsters usually located out back somewhere. Not all that difficult. Of course the cost of pickup is covered by your utilities fee for service that is paid with a smile every three months. Simple, eh?

Maybe. The rest of the story is not so simple. Solid waste management is the largest cost item for the Regional District, an $18,000,000 cost every year (on top of what you pay to the District of Chetwynd) and this cost, of course, is covered by your taxes paid to the Regional District but collected by the District of Chetwynd  if you happen to live in town. Complex and convoluted? But how else could we keep our country and our home town as clean as we do? One other wrinkle I almost forgot: The District of Chetwynd pays tipping fees to the Regional District for the right to dump your solid waste (garbage) in the landfill. Still, I believe cleanliness and order is worth the cost.

But are there ways to reduce, reuse, even recycle and save some of that coin for other uses including our private uses?

The tipping fees for domestic and commercial solid waste generated within the District of Chetwynd amount to $104,000 per year. Not a small bill. And the coin comes out of your pockets. Could that bill be shaved a bit? Without a doubt; and I have demonstrated in my own experience that in can be shaved significantly. Since we started recycling some years ago our domestic garbage has been reduced from 12-15 big bags per year to only three. Personal cost of disposal has been reduced by 75%. Meaning: I have resources to use in other causes.

In addition to the tipping fees there is a $270,000 bill every year to send someone to your driveway to collect the stuff. Reducing the tipping fees would not automatically reduce the cost of pickup.

Council has recently created a Solid Waste and Recycling Committee to study solid waste and recycling economies and to make recommendations to Council. Because solid waste is such a large and complex part of our lives we do not anticipate clear understanding and recommendations to be immediately forthcoming.


Merlin Nichols, Mayor