Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

ENCOURAGING COMPOSTING – Yukon MP Larry Bagnell (far left) discusses the compost facility expansion funding during Monday’s news conference at city hall. Listening, left to right, are Mayor Dan Curtis, Community Services Minister John Streicker and Marie-Claude Bibeau, the federal minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Ottawa helps fund larger compost facility

The federal and territorial governments have agreed to provide $4.4 million in funding for the expansion of the Whitehorse compost facility.

By Gord Fortin on July 9, 2019

The federal and territorial governments have agreed to provide $4.4 million in funding for the expansion of the Whitehorse compost facility.

The funding was announced Monday afternoon at city hall.

It’s comprised of $3.3 million from the feds and $1.1 million from the territory. The city will be contributing $40,000.

Mayor Dan Curtis told a news conference it has been challenging to get this expansion.

He said it’s imperative to prevent leachates from getting into the city’s water supply and to ensure that the landfill has an extended life.

It’s fantastic to see the business community on board with this initiative, he added.

Curtis pointed out that the green cart, or organic collection program, has diverted 2,700 tonnes of materials from the landfill. This expansion should allow for another 1,000 metric tonnes to be diverted. The commercial organic collection program is five months ahead of schedule, the mayor said.

“This is absolutely phenomenal for a population of less than 30,000 people,” he said.

It take about 18 months for the compost to be processed. This covers the time from when organics are dropped off at the facility to them being used in a garden.

The expansion is expected to drop this process down to 12 months. Curtis explained that pipes bring heat to the compost year-round. This helps break it down.

This takes it from one stage to the next as the compost is turned.

There are concerns that gravel and dirt are found in the compost when it’s lifted and turned. The gravel and dirt are not needed, and have to be filtered out.

The expansion will allow for a concrete floor and pipes to go through. This school help speed up the process.

The city is aiming to achieve a 50 per cent waste diversion rate from the landfill.

The compost is available for sale to anyone. Curtis said the city sold it to Canadian Tire, but could not keep up with the demand.

He said the operational costs are for three employees and a loader. He does not expect to see an increase on this front.

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell said this expansion will make a real difference for the territory’s families, communities and environment. He said this is the reason why Ottawa is investing in the North.

In the local trailer park in which he lives, the owner put in an organics bin. Bagnell said it’s often filled every few days. He drops off organics once a day.

He introduced Marie-Claude Bibeau, the federal minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food who was visiting the Yukon for the first time this week.

Bibeau said the goal is to empower northerners, noting the government is investing in more than 450 infrastructure projects.

Of these, 95 per cent have either been completed or are underway.

“We have many more achievements to be proud of,” she said.

The feds have helped lift 85 boil-water advisories in First Nations communities nation-wide, Bibeau added. She expects the remaining advisories to be lifted in the next two years.

She said the upgrades to the compost facility should allow for large amounts of organic waste to be collected and processed. It will protect both the environment and waterways from such waste.

“We are setting the groundwork for the growth of the population and economy of Whitehorse,” she said.

The project will address two issues with the facility. The first is an upgrade to the electric and mechanical systems. This should improve efficiency and allow the processing of additional waste.

The next issue deals with expanding gravel and concrete surface work areas as well as improving the storm water management system. These will help the facility process more organic waste efficiently.

“The new Whitehorse compost facility will also decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emitted by the organ waste, which can be substantial,” Bibeau said.

She explained that this project was identified as a priority by the community, and feels it will help empower the North.

Community Services Minister John Streicker said the money is coming from the Canada Infrastructure Plan.

“The City of Whitehorse has been doing great things with compost, effectively turning an environmental liability into an asset,” he said.

When organics get into the waste stream, he explained, it leads to leachates and methane emissions.

“They are a real problem,” Streicker said.

He pointed out that the expanded facility will allow for an additional reduction of 350 tonnes of greenhouse gas per year.

He explained that the compost – which he called black gold – will be good for gardens and city boulevards.

Streicker said the increased funding should help the facility keep up with the extra demand created by the territory’s growing population.

The funding will come partly this year and some next year, the minister said. He did not say how much would be given at each time. He did state that both increments would be spit 75 per cent from the feds and 25 from the territory.

On Monday evening, city council approved a resolution which amended the funding arrangement for the facility.

Comments (12)

Up 13 Down 2

North_of_60 on Jul 14, 2019 at 12:17 am

@Richard Bishop is correct. We should use technology like this to process all our waste and turn it into useful energy. Sort out the valuable recyclables to ship south and burn everything else to make fuel or electricity.

That is far better than wasting another $5 million on obsolete uneconomical waste management schemes. Sell/lease the compost operation to a private enterprise who will operate it profitably or shut it down.

Up 16 Down 2

Seth Wright on Jul 13, 2019 at 10:42 pm

Lol... Trudeau found another way to spread the rot of Ottawa... I absolutely agree with Max Mack - What a waste of money and what a waste of a 4 year mandate... Go Canada! Go to the polls this October and stop the waste...

Up 13 Down 1

Josey Wales on Jul 13, 2019 at 2:11 pm

Geez...on the topic of national composting, decay and general breakdown...
Octobers election despite how near, seems so so far away.

Up 16 Down 1

Richard Bishop on Jul 13, 2019 at 6:13 am

Be much further ahead spending funds on developing a "Waste to Energy" facility.

Up 11 Down 0

Wilf Carter on Jul 13, 2019 at 1:22 am

Has there been a cost benefit analysis to see if it is worth it?

Up 17 Down 1

North_of_60 on Jul 12, 2019 at 1:16 pm

The CoW should encourage compost use, and reduce the significant backlog that requires expansion, by offering free compost to those who come and fill their own containers.

Up 20 Down 2

Wilf Carter on Jul 12, 2019 at 9:44 am

Privatize it and let someone run it as business otherwise leave a it alone. It is not a smart government move to run something that can pay for it self.

Up 8 Down 6

Charles on Jul 11, 2019 at 1:22 pm

Making estimates as to the true cost of the composting is only marginally useful if you do not also estimate the savings garnered from redirecting that material from the general waste stream. There are also significant costs to managing solid waste and expanding the landfill when required which your costs estimates do not take into account.

Up 23 Down 2

Max Mack is right on Jul 10, 2019 at 3:12 pm

Max mack is right - where is the money going to come from to run this facility, after the grant money is used up on construction? How big is the O&M cost going to be for this "gift"? Even if sales doubled to $150k, they're not even coming close. But, how much does it cost to run the landfill side?

Up 26 Down 3

Max Mack on Jul 9, 2019 at 5:00 pm

Streicker describes compost as "black gold", yet the city only earned $73,000 on compost sales in 2018.
The city employs 3 employees at the "composting facility", not to mention a loader and other hardware.

Add in the new depreciation costs introduced by this "free money" given by the Feds and YTG for expansion of the facility and additional hardware . . .
Not including the opportunity cost to individual households and businesses to handle their compost according to city diktat vs conventional landfill . . .
Not including additional costs for specialized bins or garbage trucks . . .
I conservatively estimate expenses for running the compost facility (including employees, benefits, fuel, maintenance, other operating expenses, and depreciation) at $600,000 - $700,000 per year.

Black gold, indeed. But, for who?

Up 21 Down 8

Wilf on Jul 9, 2019 at 4:28 pm

Look at those liberals spending our taxpayers money without asking us what are the key things we need the most in the Yukon. She comes up in a plane and creates so much carbon in our atmosphere. What's the purpose of the carbon tax when you have a liberal totally messing up our atmosphere Shame, Shame, Shame.

Up 25 Down 7

Mick on Jul 9, 2019 at 4:23 pm

Larry looks like he's upset there was no free lunch at the meeting.

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