Mark Rendell
Mark Rendell

Trash Talking: Squabbling Over the Dump

Has the City's working relationship with the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board gone off the rails over remediation plans for the dump? Public documents suggest yes

You’d think remediating parts of the dump would be a relatively uncontroversial piece of municipal management. Yet the City’s plan has apparently placed them in conflict with the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, according to strongly worded correspondence found on the MVLWB public registry.

“To date we do not feel that there has been a good working relationship with the Board,” said Chris Greencorn, the City’s director of public works, in an email to the MVLWB’s executive director Zabey Nevitt dated Feb 27. “We really want to fix this and start 2015 on the right foot.  But to date, we have not felt that we are being heard in the process.”

In the email, Greencorn requested a meeting with Nevitt –  “Nothing more than a simple chat as heads of our respective departments.” He added: “We’ve been told by other regulatory department [sic] that “the City is really getting put through the ringer by the Water Board.”

Nevitt did not respond to Greencorn’s email until March 26, a month later. He said he was willing to meet, but added, “if you wish to discuss any aspects of the city’s licenced operations, I will require the experts on the file to be present.”

He then went on to caution Greencorn about his use of language: “Please be aware that all communications with the Board, including this and your email are available to the public through the Board’s registry, and/or access to information requests. Please consider this in your use of language with communications with Board.”

What’s the deal?

It’s hard to say exactly what’s fuelling the clash between the City and the MVLWB; the City’s director of Communications Nalini Naidoo declined to grant EDGEYK.com an interview with Greencorn or other City staff, and a call to Nevitt was not returned.

In the background of the squabble is the routine closing of parts of the dump, scheduled for 2018.  “The facility has been in operation since the early 1970’s and will continue to operate well into the future,” explains the City’s most recent remediation plan. “However, there are areas of the SWF that are close to their capacity and the City wishes to close out these areas and return them to a more natural state.” Because the City holds a water license from the MVLWB, they’re required to submit a detailed remediation plan.

From what can be pieced together from documents in the MVLWB registry, things began to go awry when the City submitted their first Interim Closure and Reclamation Plan on May 14, 2014.  It was four pages long, with another four pages of maps.

On Sept. 11, 2014, a letter came back MVLWB declaring that the City’s plan was not approved. They said the City needed to submit a new plan by January 30, 2015, which should outline, among other things, information about closing the whole dump and monitoring landfill gasses.

Greencorn shot back a month later, claiming their water license says such a detailed plan isn’t necessary for another 3.5 years.

“The City is committed to completing all necessary studies and plans required to comply with our water license requirements,” he said. Though he asked the MVLWB to offer “some flexibility… in the way of completion dates and overall procedures.”

In late January and early February, the City and the MVLWB exchanged letters regarding the requisite landfill gas study, which the City agreed to move forward a year, from the summer of 2016 to the summer of 2015. Nevitt responded positively, saying the City had “satisfied the information requirements” surrounding the gas study.

The next correspondence is Greencorn’s perturbed letter from late February.