The Discovery Park Landfill project has been passed on to the Agricultural Land Commission with no recommendation either way from Campbell River city council.
Council was given the option to make a recommendation to the ALC on whether or not the project should proceed. The proposal is to expand an existing landfill near the former Elk Falls mill site, which would bring in contaminated soils from all over the Island and parts of the mainland.
The proposal involves three different applications to various bodies, including the ALC for a non-farm use and the city for a rezoning. This week, the city was only discussing the ALC application itself, and not the rezoning application, which would come before council at a later date depending on the ALC’s decision on the matter.
The issue divided council. Half wanted to send the message to the ALC that council was not supporting the application. Councillor Ron Kerr first spoke on that idea after making a motion to deny the application, saying that “There’s many many reasons why I don’t support this going ahead, but the biggest one to me is… the potential to accept contaminated waste from outside of the community being barged in… makes us kind of ‘Contaminated Soil Central’ for the region and I can’t support that.”
Councillor Kermit Dahl agreed, adding that “I don’t see turning Campbell River into a contaminated waste site as an opportunity.”
Councillor Sean Smyth was also on the side of opposing the application. He said that Campbell Riverites “really had an issue with this,” adding that “they’re organized and we’re going to have a big fight on our hands if we allow this to happen.”
Smyth has heard of communities in the province that have agreed to bring in waste shipped from other areas and “I’ve never seen a good story out of it.
“It’s always led up to problems down the road,” he added. “If you can show me where this has worked out well let me know, but shipping in waste from other communities, I’ve never seen it turn out well.”
However, other councillors felt that the landfill could be beneficial to the community, particularly since other sites in town already accept contaminated soils as waste products.
“Our own landfill accepts contaminated material. We’re not talking about hazardous waste, which was the original landfill at the mill site. That dealt with hazardous material produced onsite at the mill. That was what the license was for. This is for contaminated materials,” said Coun. Charlie Cornfield.
Cornfield explained that council did not have to make a recommendation in either direction to the ALC, and could just pass the item forward without comment.
“At this time we’re unable to make a decision, because if we support it at this stage with the ALC… how can we have an impartial zoning hearing? This would indicate that we already supported it. I have difficulty doing that, and think we should send a letter in to the ALC that says prior to the public hearing… we can’t make a recommendation.”
Four councillors were opposed to Kerr’s motion, which defeated it. A subsequent motion to refer the item to the ALC without comment was made, which was carried after three councillors voted against it.
The application will come back to the council table for the rezoning portion after the ALC’s determination.