Province tries to kill any changes to Otter Lake facility - NEWS 95.7
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Province tries to kill any changes to Otter Lake facility

The province is wading into the Otter Lake Waste Management Facility discussion, and it may have killed any chance of public consultations.

A resolution was unanimously passed in the legislature Wednesday to reject proposed changes by Halifax Regional Municipality to the facility.

To take it one step further, Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau wrote to the mayor and councilors saying both the front-end processor (FEP) and the waste stabilization facility (WSF) will stay open.

Councillor Steve Adams, who never wanted a review of the two sites, told News 95.7 it’s good the province stepped in.

“Not only was the WSF and FEP a commitment to the local communities, it was part of the Department of Energy regulations, so seeing how council didn’t see fit to proceed accordingly, the province had to step in and rightly so,” he explained.

He added that pretty much puts an end to any review process.

“The letter from the Minister is quite definitive and that’s what’s put this process to an end,” he said.

Adams pointed out it’s not just a municipal issue.

“My big concern with this now is that HRM has lost a huge opportunity to look at efficiency because this whole process has been shut down instead of just putting the FEP and WSF aside and looking at other ways,” he said.

Councillor Waye Mason points to the election as a reason why the government is getting involved.

“This is posturing,” he insisted. “The intention of HRM, and it was made clear at council, is that we are going to go forward with the public consultation process that will engage the people. Many of the councillors, including myself, who voted for the consultation, were not in favour of necessarily closing the front end processing at Otter Lake.”

Mason sharply told News 95.7 ultimately, the province can do whatever it wants.

“I share their concerns that we need a full engagement with the public similar to what happened before; I just wish the province would get back to us this quickly on all our other legislative requests.”

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John Cascadden

HRM has only itself to blame for the state as things are at the moment. Two days before the last Regional Council meeting, on Sunday April 21st, 2013 I sent the following message to ALL HRM Councillors plus the Mayor as a solution, but they failed to take action:

Subject: The Otter Lake Solution

I feel the following motions should be put forward at the Tuesday Regional Council meeting:

1. HRM Regional Council agrees that the existing operational Agreement that details how the Otter Lake facility is operated is to be honoured fully, with no changes effected by HRM Staff or Regional Council as a result of the proposed public consultation.

2. The Community Monitoring Committee shall be the only authority to propose to Regional Council possible changes to the Otter Lake facility during the remainder of the existing 25 year Agreement; but these changes cannot alter the intent of the existing operational agreement, except to initiate a decommissioning process for the facility. This will permit improvements to the performance and efficiency of existing operational components, but not enable degradation of their specifications.

3. The Stantec Report, although inappropriate to modify the Otter Lake facility’s operations effectively, is perhaps a suitable document to facilitate the next waste management solution to be designed and thus take full advantage of Stantec’s proposed money saving recommendations. HRM Staff are to carry out the public consultation with only that goal in mind.

4. HRM Staff should start searching for a suitable location to host the next HRM waste management facility.

5. HRM Staff should consider that the new HRM waste management facility should be located, sized, and buffered such that its effective operational life could span at least 100 years, without unacceptable risks to the public’s well-being and the health & safety of the environment.

6. HRM Staff are to develop a prioritized plan, to be presented for public and Regional Council approval, so that the new waste management facility can be designed, constructed and brought into operation as soon as possible; thus the Otter Lake facility can be decommissioned, and the money saving benefits of the new waste management facility can start to be achieved.

This gives the public, HRM Staff, and Regional Council at least 10 years to design, and implement the next “World Class” waste management facility. Better than being in the horrendous time crunch situation that existed when the life of the Sackville Landfill was coming to an abrupt end, with major doubts as to whether the Otter Lake facility would be available in time. Remember it took 14 months for the public and the Municipal Councils of the day to broker an Agreement for the Otter Lake facility. We have the time now; it must be used wisely.

HRM Regional Council can maintain the public’s trust by honouring the existing Otter Lake Agreement, and HRM Staff can commence work to get their proposed money saving waste management program up and running in the most cost effective way. Sounds like a “Best of Class” solution to me.

Is HRM Regional Council capable of directing HRM Staff to take this forward thinking, and bold step? …. I certainly hope so.

Best Regards, John Cascadden

148 McDonald Lake Drive
Hatchet Lake, Nova Scotia
Canada B3T 1R7

Phone : (902) 471-4631

Only Deputy Mayor Reg Rankin, and Councillors Steve Adams, Matt Whitman, and David Hendsbee had the moral fibre to try to prevent a flawed public consultation from moving forward as was desired by the remainder of the Council and HRM Staff.

Council was warned repeatedly that the FEP & WSF components of the Otter Lake facility could not be removed because of a existing Agreement between the Province, Mirror NS, and the public. HRM Regional Council voted for the public consultation to move forward (12 to 4), but thankfully the NS Legislature unanimously vetoed that option, and NS Environment Minister the Honourable Sterling Belliveau sent a letter to the Mayor that clearly took the FEP & WSF removal option off the table.

Now it is time for HRM to start planning for the next landfill/solid waste management solution, and thus ready to start up after or before Otter Lake is schedule to close in 2023.

April 25, 2013 at 2:04 pm
Terry Stewart

I really get a kick out of Councilor Mason’s statement, Many of the councillors, including myself, who voted for the consultation, were not in favour of necessarily closing the front end processing at Otter Lake.” Necessarily is not much of a promise and this is why the majority of the councilors and staff weren’t trusted to do the right thing here.

It’s the same as tis clear bag issue, I have relatives in Lunenburg, Cumberland and Cape Breton where the clear bags are in place and you don’t hear about the illegal dump sites that are turning up in the woods and you would be quite surprised at the amount of people in rural areas that are burning after dark 90% of their garbage in the backyard in barrels!!! You will create more environmental issues going to a clear bag system than using the “honor system” and the majority of people will recycle and divert their waste accordingly..

April 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm