When the CRD launched its public consultation regarding its 15-point strategy on solid waste management it focused on reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover as its main principles. Most of these strategies make eminent sense.
The final strategy, at the end of the document is labelled “Enhance Hartland disposal capacity.” Its subtexts mention “Review ban enforcement levels, subject to recycling market conditions; continue to operate Hartland Landfill using best practices; develop design options to maximize disposal capacity until 2100 and beyond; and continue to conduct research and investigate emerging technologies.” All quite benign to the untrained eye.
What most residents didn’t realize was that this was code for large-scale mining and quarrying at Hartland to dig a much bigger hole, in order to extend the life of the landfill from 2045, the date by which it is estimated it will be full if current disposal practices do not change, to the year 2100. Not only will there be blasting and quarrying, but unlike in the past, the aggregate removed will no longer be stored or used onsite. Instead it will be trucked from Hartland to projects around the region.
While the CRD has failed to date to provide any details as to how much rock will be removed, over how long a period or where it will be shipped to, a traffic study report that it commissioned estimated that rock removal would result in 12 trucks per hour (100 per day) each way using Willis Point Road. These heavy trucks will then trundle through parts of Saanich, possibly Central Saanich and other neighbouring municipalities, disturbing residents, causing excessive wear and tear on roads and emitting significant greenhouse gases. Indications are that this rock removal and shipping could last for years if not decades. The CRD has provided no information to clarify or contradict these estimates.
It doesn’t have to be that way. More aggressive waste reduction targets could be adopted, other measures like integrated resource management could be explored and alternate sites closer to the West Shore where most population growth is occurring, and thus where most waste growth will come from, could be established. Why blast a bigger hole into the side of Mt. Work, turning Hartland into the equivalent of a mine site and trucking rock off-site through Saanich while continuing to truck waste from the West Shore to Hartland? This is the least effective environmental and financial solution to the region’s long-term waste disposal challenge and puts a disproportionate burden on Saanich residents and other communities near to Hartland.