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Otter Lake CMC NEWS - March 2020

Welcome to the Otter Lake Landfill Community Monitoring Committee's March 2020 Newsletter. In this newsletter you'll read more about:
  • Otter Lake CMC and the Halifax Waste-Resource Society AGMs
  • Op-Ed article by Otter Lake CMC Executive Director Reg Rankin
  • Update on Front End Processor & Waste Stabilization Facility
  • Spotlight - Otter Lake CMC Board Members
  • Master Composter Recycler Registration
  • NS government banning the bag!
  • Otter Lake CMC Board Members
You are invited! Upcoming Annual General Meetings
The Annual General Meeting for the Otter Lake CMC is scheduled for Thursday, March 26th, 2020 at 6:30 pm at the Links of Brunello Clubhouse Boardroom, 120 BRUNELLO BLVD (off the Timberlea Village Parkway).

The CMC Board Meeting will be followed by the Annual General Meeting of the Halifax Waste-Resource Society. These meetings are both open to the public and provide a great opportunity for public input.

For more information on the meetings or to become a member of the Halifax Waste-Resource Society, email
RSVP to the AGMs on Facebook
Op-ed by Otter Lake CMC Executive Director, Reg Rankin
The showcase Otter Lake Landfill in Timberlea is now beginning its third decade of service to HRM. The question is whether it can continue for its intended quarter century and beyond.  

As far as the Community Monitoring Committee (CMC), the local citizen-based group that acts as the ‘watchdog’ is concerned, the facility can operate well beyond its intended timeline in its present operational mode, but the final answer rests firmly in the hands of the Halifax Regional Municipality.  The reason the landfill is operating well is because of its size and the current amount of trash going into the facility.

But I am concerned that HRM staff thinks it is now time to move on with structural changes because the municipality is not getting enough volume of trash to make their operating model financially viable. All commercial refuse is going to other landfills outside Halifax where tipping fees are cheaper. When the city went to court in 2004 it won the right to keep all commercial trash at Otter Lake. Ten years later Halifax Council under a new administration reversed itself and allowed commercial waste to be exported to landfills in other areas of the province.

In a letter to Mayor Savage in November, Scott Guthrie, Chair of the Halifax Waste/Resource Society, said that it appeared that the ongoing issue of changes to the Landfill and closure of the Waste Stabilization Facility (WSF) and the Front-End Processor (FEP) may re-emerge in 2020.

These two machines render any organics received in the garbage harmless in the Landfill by  ‘cooking’ it into dust and making it organic free leaving a cleaner Landfill. Removal of the equipment would leave the CMC useless.

In 2017, the city’s landfill operator, MIRROR, formally requested the CMC to support the closure of the FEP/WSF. This was rejected by the watchdog group. In his letter to Mayor Savage, Mr. Guthrie, said another review would be unproductive and risk eroding the public’s trust in government’s ability to stand by its decisions.  “ ….Nova Scotia’s Environment department has steadfastly supported the Otter Lake Landfill and we see no reason why it would not stand by the community should there be another effort by HRM to alter the landfill operating permit and CMC’s contract with HRM.” 

In 2014, former Mayor Walter Fitzgerald, who signed the community contract on behalf of Council, spoke out about the possibility that the sorting and stabilization facilities could be closed. “I’m in favour of cost savings like anyone else,” he said, “but not at the expense of a community. We agreed to give environmental and community safeguards to those residents who generously allowed a regional landfill to be located in their community. All other communities refused.”

Today, the Otter Lake Landfill without the presence of CMC would not have the protection of the FEP/WSF and prone to air and water pollution.

We’re the cops on the street watching the owner and the operator of the landfill. That’s the deterrent.

- Written by Reg Rankin, to be published soon in the Chronicle Herald

Winter views at the Otter Lake Landfill
Update - Front End Processor & Waste Stabilization Facility
In our November 2019 newsletter, we shared an article interviewing Otter Lake CMC Chair Scott Guthrie and Executive Director Reg Rankin on the future of the Front End Processor (FEP) and Waste Stabilization Facility (WSF).  To read that newsletter, click here.

In that newsletter, Reg Rankin stressed their importance saying: "The FEP & WSP are the defining features of the Otter Lake landfill and are what make it innovative compared to other landfills across Canada. Working in tandem, the FEP & WSP allow us to divert recyclables and raw organics from the landfill and provide for an extended lifespan to the entire facility.  These features are the essence of what makes the landfill unique and have attracted many from all over the world to come see it."

In Fall 2019, both Reg Rankin and Scott Guthrie communicated the importance of the FEP & WSP to Halifax Regional Municipality Council, advising that any potential changes to their operation would need to first be discussed with the Otter Lake CMC and broader community. 

As of March 2020, the Otter Lake CMC has yet to receive a response from HRM regarding plans for the FEP & WSP. "The future of the FEP and WSP remains a top concern for the Otter Lake CMC and we hope to receive clarity from HRM Council on this soon," says Scott Guthrie.

Stay tuned to our Facebook page, website, and e-newsletter for any developments on this issue.
Spotlight on Otter Lake CMC Board Members Frank Johnston and Raïssa Musial
Ever wondered who the members of the Otter Lake CMC are? Well at the bottom of this newsletter you can see an entire list, but this month we want to shine a light on our Board Members Frank Johnston and Raïssa Musial.

Name: Frank Johnston

Home community: been living in Goodwood for 20 years

Why were you keen to join the Otter Lake CMC?  To learn about the impact and operation of Otter Lake and its impacts on the surrounding community, Otter Lake is at a maximum 3 kilometers from where I live.

What has been most interesting about your time on the board thus far?  For me being on the CMC has been a learning experience almost every time I attend a meeting. I learn about the science of a modern day landfill, I definitely learn about business concerns and political concerns. I learn about how small assertions by small or singular persons can impact greatly the direction of an idea or project. 

How long have you been a director on the board?  At least five years

In your opinion, why is the role of the Otter Lake CMC important?  To be the ears, eyes and WatchGuard for the surrounding communities and the province as a whole in regards to landfill best practices.

Name:  Raïssa Musial

Home community:  Hubley

Why were you keen to join the Otter Lake CMC?  Having a personal interest in being a protector and guardian of the environment, I was keen to join the Otter Lake CMC to help ensure the operations of this facility do not have a negative impact on the surrounding forests and lakes.  I think it’s important for all industries to have a third-party watchdog to ensure standards and best practices are being met and or exceeded.  In the case of landfills, which have the potential to cause serious harm and be very toxic, it is especially important to monitor these operations.  

What has been most interesting about your time on the board thus far?  The most interesting aspect of participating on the CMC board has been touring the Otter Lake facility and seeing first-hand the operations and incredible “clean” approach to handling garbage.  

The Otter Lake facility is a world leader in waste management, and learning about their unique, efficient, and innovative methods used to process waste is important information for the community.  Their system and procedures are very specialized and worthy of sharing with the community.  I also find the broad range of occupations, knowledge, and expertise of committee members to be very enlightening, and inspiring.  

How long have you been a director on the board?  Since April 25, 2019

In your opinion, why is the role of the Otter Lake CMC important?  The role of this committee is important to ensure that HRM complies with the 1999 Agreement between the Waste Resources Society with respect to any expansion of the Otter Lake Landfill and to ensure no environmental violations occur.

Registration now open - Master Composter Recycler program

The Halifax Regional Municipality is advising residents that registration for the next session of the Master Composter Recycler program is now open.

The Master Composter Recycler (MCR) program is a free, four-week, seven-class education program that provides training sessions, hands-on workshops and facility tours for residents to become more knowledgeable on waste management in the Halifax region. Participants will also learn how to reduce waste through backyard composting and other at-home solutions.

This program is open to all residents interested in becoming waste champions within their families, communities and work places.

When: April 29 to May 27, 2020
Wednesdays 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Where: Captain William Spry Community Centre
16 Sussex Street, Spryfield  

For more information and to register, visit the Master Composter Recycler website.

NS government bans the bag!

In October 2019, Nova Scotia's MLA passed a bill to ban single-use plastic checkout bags, with the ban taking full effect in Fall 2020.  Already this year, we've seen Sobey's cutting off its supply of plastic bags in their grocery stores.

As plastic has become more and more ubiquitous over the past few decades, we are now starting to see greater awareness of alternatives and actions we can all take to reduce our plastic consumption. On behalf of the Otter Lake CMC, we applaud the Nova Scotia government for making this bold step to help protect our environment and keep plastic out of our lakes, waterways, and oceans.

Click here to read CBC's coverage on the plastic bag ban.

Otter Lake CMC Board Members

The CMC comprises 15 members, including the local members of Regional Council from Districts 11 and 12, the Mayor, an appointed member of Council, 2 council-appointed members-at-large, and the 9 Directors of the Halifax Waste Resource Society.

Our current membership includes:

Council Representatives
Mayor Mike Savage
District 11 Councillor Stephen Adams
District 12 Councillor Richard Zurawski
District 13 Councillor Matt Whitman

Volunteer Members-at-large 
Mike Becigneul, Timberlea

Volunteer Directors of Halifax Waste-Resource Society
Scott Guthrie, Chair, Prospect
Ali Duale, Beechville
Andrew Giles, Dartmouth
Frank Johnston, Prospect
Peter Lund, Dartmouth
Murray Power, Hubley
Tom Robertson, Hubley
Maureen Yeadon, Prospect

Raïssa Musial, Hubley

Copyright © 2020 Otter Lake Community Monitoring Committee, All rights reserved.

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