The Regional District of Nanaimo board has agreed to bury solid waste from cargo and cruise ships in the regional landfill.
With four directors opposed, Vanessa Craig, Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge, DeCourcy); Stuart McLean, Electoral Area H (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay); and Nanaimo directors Ben Geselbracht and Tyler Brown, who is also board chair; the motion agrees to accept solid organic waste from ships anchored or working alongside Nanaimo shipping terminals for a two-year period at which time it will be re-assessed by the board.
The motion came following a request from Vancouver-based Tymac Launch Services Ltd. with support from the Nanaimo Port Authority, who said they had interest from ships docked in Port of Nanaimo anchorages. Tymac has told the RDN it expects to send 22 tonnes of international ship waste (ISW) from cargo and cruise ships per year, which the Canadian Food Inspection Agency requires to be buried at a minimum depth of 1.8 metres to eliminate the risk of spreading foreign material and pathogens. For perspective, the RDN’s solid waste management plan’s 2029 goal is to landfill 109 kg per person annually.
“Acceptance of this waste is against our regional district solid waste management policies,” Geselbracht argued. “The majority of the waste that we’re contemplating accepting is organic matter and we have a ban on organic material being accepted at our landfill.
“I would rather support us strongly advocating that the federal government, the Nanaimo Port Authority need to take responsibility for this waste that’s being generated through systems outside of our locale … and not to have the local regional district subsidize these activities with taxpayer money and landfill space.”
RDN staff are recommending a minimum tipping fee of three times the amount of the Vancouver landfill to “help ensure that the regional landfill does not attract ISW.” A staff report says revenue generated would offset all costs related to accepting the waste.
Craig said research of alternatives such as Victoria-based shuttle service Pacific Northwest Transportation Services, who is investigating extracting hydrogen from methane gas generated by organic waste from cruise ships, “suggests there are other options other than putting it in our landfill and creating problems.”
Brown’s no-vote was fuelled by a “misalignment with policy direction,” the chair said.
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder