Moose Jaw: New landfill may have to go back to the drawing board

City of Moose Jaw administration would have to return to square one with planning for a new landfill if the Rural Municipality of Moose Jaw rejects its discretionary use application, city manager Maryse Carmichael says.  

She also says that a new type of technology that allegedly turns 100 per cent of all waste into usable building materials is unrealistic.

Carmichael spoke with the media following the April 8 regular council meeting about the proposed solid waste management venue, after the project’s consultants and Ministry of Environment (MOE) officials spoke to council about the project. 

Asked what would happen if the RM rejected the city’s application, Carmichael said, “This is something we need to look at, and that’s a discussion that we’re having with the RM as well. We will (also) have to go back to the drawing board and figure out a different location.”

The media suggested that the city could expand the landfill to the east, remove the aggregate rock from there, sell it, and then determine the cost to install clay, a liner and a leachate collector.

“We are looking at all the options. We are looking at the old landfill. (But) between the (nearby) freshwater source, between what’s already existing (with residences within 500 metres and the adjacent Highway 1), it’s not really an option we’re considering to expand the old landfill,” Carmichael said.

“At this point,” city hall has entirely ruled out expansion, which is why it has chosen a site north of the city, she continued. Meanwhile, reports received about this initiative — including from the ministry — are also “pretty close” to officially ruling out expansion.

Even with a liner and five metres of clay for a base? the media asked.

“Yes. And the issue with this is, if we go that route, then financially, it’s not a viable option because it is so expensive to … (meet) the current (ministry) requirements … ,” she replied.

The media also asked the city manager whether she had met with Randall Johnson, founder of Aspen Innovation Park Inc., who spoke at the RM’s public hearing on March 19, to see whether the city could use his zero-waste technology.

Carmichael said she, operations director Bevan Harlton, and RM officials met with Johnson after the hearing to learn more about his business. She noted that the city and RM are discussing this potential technology and need to continue those talks.

Asked about the business’ technological claims, Carmichael pointed out that it started in Florida in 2022, but few places are using it.

“So as a city manager who is responsible here at the city in guarding our public funds, I have a hard time looking at an option that is not certified in Canada yet and is not in use anywhere in North America — it is not in use in the United States, either,” she said.

“So that’s difficult for me to go forward immediately.”

Are the claims too good to be true? the media asked.

“Well, we’re still looking into it,” said Carmichael, noting that the City of Regina is talking with the company about potentially adopting this technology. She would speak with Queen City officials when she attends the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association’s spring convention during the April 14 week.

The City of Regina told the Express by email that it had not entered into either a formal or informal agreement with Johnson and his company.

The media pointed out that countries such as Germany and Japan have high recycling standards, so it was questionable how Johnson could match those efforts.

“That’s a great question. And that’s exactly the same question the RM was asking in our meeting,” said Carmichael. “It’s great to claim it, but where’s the evidence that you can do it? So we need to understand that before we amend our plans.”

The next regular council meeting is Monday, April 22.

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