Slow start for Hazelton recycling

New Hazelton’s new garbage pick up and recycling program was being used by only about 34 per cent of residents.

Partway through its first month of operations the District of New Hazelton’s new garbage pick up and recycling program was being used by only about 34 per cent of residents. The new service started July 5, and by the third week 90 out of 255 households are participating.

“It’s not as much as we would like but it is a start,” said Wendy Hunt, Chief Administrative Officer for the district. “It may be because some people are away on summer holidays. But everybody is enrolled, and they are paying for this service in their taxes.”

The service is being introduced as the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine begins work to build a new landfill in New Hazelton adjacent to the existing site as part of its diversion plan for the region.

“The regional district is getting much more involved in solid waste,” said Roger Tooms, manager of works and services for the regional district.

“We’re modernizing our facilities to improve on the standards of the day with regards to protection of the environment and basic safety.”

The existing landfills in both New Hazelton and Kitwanga are being decommissioned, and a new transfer station will be built at Kitwanga.

“We have shaped the Kitwanga facility for closure and in New Hazelton we have removed the vegetation and done some surveying,” said Tooms.  “We tendered both jobs, and both jobs have been awarded. I (expect) the equipment will roll in in the next couple of weeks.”

Tooms said the timing for transition from the old landfills to the new transfer station and landfill will depend on weather and how well construction goes.

“They may or may not be ready for the end of this year.

“We can’t open the transfer station if the landfill is not ready to receive (material). If it is too late in the year to commission it’s because the snow has started, there may be a decision to postpone (the opening) until next spring.”

The budget for the two projects is about $6.1 million, and Tooms said there is a $1.2 million contingency included, so if everything goes well the actual cost of the project may be closer to $4 million.

Tooms said the regional district will be talking to other communities in the area without curbside pickup, like Kitwanga, to explore interest.

“There is still a little bit of work to do with the overall servicing plan for the Hazelton area. The Hazelton landfill sits within a function that includes not only the Hazelton and the Kitwanga area but that same service area goes all the way up to Meziadin Stewart and Telegraph Creek,” he said.

The garbage and recycling pickup service in New Hazelton is being delivered by two local businesses, Trollzone Enterprises and the Hazelton Bottle Depot.

“We wanted to make sure they were still making a living and we were not competing with them in any way,” said Hunt. “So by hiring them we are enabling them to grow their businesses and also deliver this service to residents.”

Curbside pick up is every Tuesday, alternating between garbage pickup and recycling pickup. Residents were sent calendars, recycling bags and information about recycling before the service started.

“The estimated life of the new landfill is between 40 and 50 years, and our hope is that with this recycling program and getting our residents to recycle, we can get it to last for 75 years instead,” said Hunt. “So the longer that we can make it last the better it is for everyone, for the environment and also for the taxpayers that have to pay for a new landfill.”

Hunt said anyone with questions is invited to call the district office, and if enough people are interested, the district will host a recycling workshop.

“We really hope people will get on board with it and do what is right for the environment, which is to sort their garbage, send what can be sent to recycling, and send the rest to the landfill,” said Hunt.