It’s been over a month since the Invermere Transfer Station reopened, and the future of the facility is still cloudy as the district considers big changes.
“I think manning the site… is something that needs to be thought of,” District of Invermere Chief Administrative Officer Chris Prosser told a regular council meeting on Tuesday, November 27.
The transfer station was closed from September 11 until October 31 after a family of bears was sighted rummaging through the bins at the station. The district was also seeing an increase of improper dumping at the site at around the same time.
Over the time that the station was closed, district staff worked with their existing contractor to look at future options and a final three were recommended.
Option one would see the district purchase wildlife resistant containers, which would deal with the issue of wildlife accessing waste inside the containers. However, the new bins would not curtail illegal dumping, and could in fact increase it, as the bins are more difficult to use than the existing containers.
This option would also require set operating hours of the facility and the hiring of staff to operate the facility. In total, this option would cost the district $280,000 in the first year and $207,000 annually each year following — roughly double the current annual cost.
Option two would see the creation of a proper transfer station with rollaway bins. For this option to work, the transfer station would need to be relocated on a larger piece of property. The facility would also need to be staffed to ensure that proper garbage was being collected, and to direct people to the Columbia Valley landfill as needed. The existing contractor provided estimates of $165,000 per annum for provision of one bin and staffing, and $350,000 per annum for additional bins and a re-use centre.
The third and final option is outright closure of the facility. Councillors Greg Anderson and Paul Denchuk took the chance to voice their opposition to this option, as said it would only increase illegal dumping in the community.
Mayor Gerry Taft said since so many people from outside Invermere use the transfer station, a cost-sharing solution with the RDEK could also be an option. Taft also said that since the majority of illegal dumping takes place at night, locking the facility after dark is another option to consider.
Prosser noted that the district received ongoing complaints about the closure, although mostly from people who do not have garbage service provided, and commercial operators or residents who live outside of the community.
Following the closure, district staff found that some residents of the area would leave their garbage at the gates of the transfer station, lying outside of locked dumpsters, and at garbage cans throughout the community, especially at Kinsmen Beach. Private garbage containers were also used and the RCMP reported instances of illegal dumping outside municipal boundaries along the Toby Creek cut-off road.
A new illegal dumping bylaw is currently under construction whereby anyone caught illegally dumping, or proven to have done so, could be ticketed $250. Pending further research, the bylaw will be voted on at a future council meeting.