Photo: Halifax Examiner
Photo: Halifax Examiner

Tender awards

Dexter Construction—$651,999.98 for paving various locations in Burnside Business Park.

Lange’s Rock Farm Construction Limited—$660,130.38 for rebuilding the Northwest Arm Seawall.

Wellington Street

Last month’s public hearing on the proposed Wellington Street development ran til midnight, so council will debate and vote on the issue tomorrow. I gave extensive background on the issue here.

Garbage

There are a couple of things going on on the garbage front.

First, council is going through the formal motion of a “first reading” of the new garbage bag policies—clear bags except for one opaque bag, with a limit of six bags per household. These changes were debated and approved by council after a public hearing in December, but due to input received at the public hearing the bylaws were tweaked enough to require another go-round in the public notification process, hence tomorrow’s “first reading.” Likely, council will give final approval to the changes at its next meeting, and the bylaw will come into effect soon after.

Second, and far more problematic, council will have a “first reading” for a bylaw change that will allow commercial waste haulers (that is, haulers who pick up garbage at apartment buildings and commercial businesses) to truck the waste out of HRM. This is coupled with an increase in the Otter Lake dump’s tipping fees, from $125 per tonne to $170 per tonne, which nearly guarantees every commercial hauler will choose to dump at the Kaizer Meadow Landfill in Chester, where tipping fees are just $76 per tonne—the difference more than justifies the fuel and labour costs of the longer drive.

The existing no-export rule for garbage was essential to the philosophy behind HRM’s then-state-of-the-art waste system in 1995. The staff report on this issue goes into contortions to justify ditching the no-export rule, noting that:

The 1995 Integrated Waste Resource Strategy adopted by Council provides that the Municipality will manage the waste generated within the Municipality – but it does not impose an obligation that all waste must be disposed of within the municipality. Similarly, there are no such requirements in the HRM Charter, the Environment Act, the Solid Waste Resources Regulations, the Community Monitoring Committee Agreement, the Mirror Nova Scotia Agreement or at common law. Most municipalities do not have flow control and prior to 2002 Halifax also did not have flow control. Halifax does have an obligation to manage the waste generated within the municipality, whether generated by residential or ICI sources, however the Municipality does not have the obligation to process the waste. The Solid Waste Resources Regulations under the Environment Act require Halifax to ensure at least 50% diversion for waste. The 1995 Strategy envisioned that the ICI sector could elect to use the Municipality’s disposal facilities or create their own disposal facilities. Halifax currently has a diversion rate of approximately 61%. Solid Waste staff will continue to monitor and track diversion to ensure the Municipality meets its obligation under the Environment Act.

Allowing waste to be exported to landfills outside the Municipality is not considered diversion. The amount of exported waste is still attributed to Halifax’s total tonnes generated for diversion totals when calculated by the Province and RRFB. If waste was to be removed from the Halifax it would be delivered to a landfill site which is bound by the same Provincial laws and regulations currently in place at the Otter Lake facility. All landfills in Nova Scotia are governed by the same Nova Scotia Solid Waste regulations and guidelines as well as landfill liner specifications. Residual waste/garbage materials exported from Halifax would be delivered to other permitted and fully compliant landfills. The receiving landfill operator is responsible to ensure provincial legislation, regulations and bans are adhered to and complied with.

There are approximately 140,000 tonnes of waste currently being delivered to, and processed at the Otter Lake landfill facility each year. Of this, 80,000 tonnes are generated by the ICI sector with the remaining 60,000 tonnes generated through residential collection. Based on fiscal year 2013/14 the cost per tonne to process was $163 with the associated tip fee at $125 per tonne. This resulted in a tip fee variance of $38 per tonne which represents over $3 million in tax payer funded subsidies for ICI waste processing and disposal (Table 1).

All of  this is true, but look at it another way: If, instead of being subsidized, commercial haulers were charged the full $170 rate and required to dump at Otter Lake, the diversion issue would evaporate over night—the incentive to pull recyclables and organics out of the garbage stream would be huge.

But as is, the city is already resisting a provincial effort to increase diversion rates. As I explained last July:

The ambitious Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, passed in 2007, laid out a dozen targets related to environmental standards, one of which was “the solid-waste disposal rate will be no greater than three hundred kilograms per person per year by the year 2015 through measures that include the development of new programs and product stewardship regulations.” Here we are in 2014, one year away from the 2015 target date, and the per person waste dispel rate in Halifax is 396 kilograms per person—over 30 percent above the target.

The province insists the city meet the target, but the city bureaucracy is resisting. Reads a staff report:

HRM waste characteristic data identifies 60,294 tonnes of waste currently delivered to landfill as being recyclable or compostable materials targeted for diversion. To reach the 300kg target, HRM would have to divert 65% of this material. This is material that should have been separated at source by the residents and commercial sector generators.

[…]

To increase diversion, staffing resources would need to increase to support additional educational and compliance program initiatives to enhance diversion. Based on current diversion data, for every 1,300 tonnes diverted, an investment in 1 Diversion Planning Officer (DPO) is required. The diversion of an additional 39,300 tonnes equates to 30 FTE DPOs. This staffing cost is estimated at an additional $2,070,000/year. Currently, HRM is contemplating hiring an additional 3 staff at a cost of $207,000 per year. Barring other legislative changes, and or program changes, with the three additional staff, and existing staff numbers, achievement of the 300 kg/capita target will take ten years to complete.

Translation: “Screw you and your 2015 target; we’re not going to hit it until 2025.”

We’re missing the target largely because of waste from commercial operations. The staff report contains this chart:

The chart shows that about half of the waste comes from “ICI”—industrial and commercial operations, which have private waste collection. The “C&D” is construction and demolition waste, which is increasing due to the over-heated real estate market.

Besides telling the province to screw off, the change to allow the export of waste guarantees that diversion targets will not be met.

It’s as simple as that: we either keep commercial waste in HRM and have some chance of meeting the diversion targets, or we don’t give a crap about the targets.

Signs

Council is considering both increasing and decreasing signs advertising businesses.

Early in the meeting, council will consider a temporary sign ordinance. As I reported a while back, council is “considering approving advertising basically everywhere in the suburbs: signs in empty lots, ads wrapping around light posts in parking lots, and sandwich boards all over the place.”

Later in the meeting, council will paradoxically try to reduce sign clutter. Responding to long-standing complaints about signs on provincial highways, in 2011 the legislature gave the city authority to regulate signs on non-100 series highways (the province has its own regulations for the 100 series highways).

Council is being asked to approve a pilot project regulating signs at the most egregious locales, at Highway 333 at its two intersections with the St. Margarets Bay Road, the approaches to Peggys Cove from either direction on the “loop” road.

The proposal will allow businesses to buy a spot on a 2 x 6 foot city erected sign; once that sign is up all privately constructed signs within 2.5 kilometres of the city sign will be required to be removed. There’s a $200 fee for getting on the city sign, with an annual renewal fee of $50.

Quinpool parking

Councillor Linda Mosher wants the city to ask the owners of that empty lot at Quinpool Road and Harvard Street to open it up as a paid parking lot.

Anti-Whistling bylaw

Councillor Gloria McCluskey wants to outlaw whistling at King’s Wharf.

Well, as I explained this morning, whistling by trains.

 

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Anit-whistling by-law? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA Has that woman lost it?! Someone pinch me and tell me this isn’t for real!! Reason 5001 why I wouldn’t want to live at King’s Wharf.

  2. People who move into a neighbourhood and who then attempt to ban a blues bar or hush a train annoy me greatly. Work to make your new community a better one? Go for it. Try to change long-standing uses because they bother you? You should have done your homework first.

  3. The vacant lot is at the corner of Quinpool Road and Harvard Street, not Harvest Street.

      1. Awwwwww…. cummon… SHUT OFF the auto-correct, and the «speek-mericun-boi SpelChek».

        ShURELY you can spell…. with tongue-in-cheek apologies to the severely orthographically-challenged FRANK magazine — for the h.

        «CP SPELLING & CAPS» anyone???

  4. Is anyone doing the math on all these new residential developments? How can a city as economically stagnant as Halifax need so many new residential units?

    1. It seems obvious that in the short term the central urban areas of Halifax and downtown Dartmouth will have an over-abundance of residential units. Thus
      no need for new massive developments on residential side-streets like
      Wellington Street or Seymour Street.