Mountain View County fears its ditches will be turned into makeshift dump sites if a transfer station in Olds is closed.
High costs led the Mountain View Regional Waste Commission to vote recently to close a transfer site in the town. It had been used as a collection point for everything from agricultural plastic and burn barrel ashes to electronics and waste oil.
However, the site was being used less frequently and was running a deficit, prompting the commission to close it by Oct. 1.
County Reeve Bruce Beattie said they fear taking away a convenient site for many residents will lead to more illegal dumping, already a problem in the county, as it is in many others.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt without those facilities we’ll find more waste in our ditches and our farm fields,” said Beattie. “It’s not something we want to see happen.
“I think that’s one of our major concerns, and certainly not only ourselves but for residents of Olds in terms of their ability to deal with their waste.
“Those services provided by he waste transfer site we feel are pretty important.”
“We’ve already lost our rural waste pickup through the commission. That is now contracted out to another company.”
Waste transfer sites are located at Sundre and Water Valley in the county, but they aren’t close to many residents, he said.
Beattie said the county has had “informal discussions” with municipal representatives in Olds and Carstairs to see if an alternative to closing the Olds transfer site can be found.
“We’re going to approach the commission and get a better handle on what their plans are and what they might be open to in terms of those transfer stations,” said Beattie.
The commission meets next on Sept. 28.
Commission chair Mary Anne Overwater said it is willing to consider other options.
“At the time we made the best decision we could. We are contemplating other options for that site,” said Overwater, an Olds town councillor.
Possibilities involve reduced operating days or service levels at the site.
“We’re certainly open to suggestions. But right now that facility operates at a loss and the building itself needs some major repairs.”
Since July, the transfer station’s deficit has climbed to $75,000.
For residents in the area, taking their garbage to the Didsbury landfill site only about 10 km away is a far cheaper option, she said. As well, fridges, metals and batteries no longer accepted at the Olds transfer site can be taken to Didsbury.
There are concerns the closure of the Olds site might be followed by other closures, he added.
Other counties, such as Kneehill County, offer low-cost garbage to their residents not matched by the local commission.
On top of the proposed service reduction, is a significant boost in the county’s requisition from the commission. It is set to rise from about $170,000 to more than $400,000 this year.
“I guess as a rural resident I’m starting to wonder what we’re getting for the dollars we’re putting in.”
Overwater said the commission has been going through some challenging times and a $25 per capital requisition was needed. Requisitions will be lower for 2016.
“This year, I think our councils and municipalities will be pleasantly surprised at the budget we’re going to present.”