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The M.D. of Smoky River No. 130 is trying to rule out all other options prior to entering into a regional solid waste management proposal with neighboring communities band together to support.
That was the cautious message reverberating from the confines of council chambers at last week’s regular meeting as councillors voted unanimously in favor of a move which would see the municipality look further into the operational costs of keeping their three landfill sites before jumping on the regional bandwagon.
The decision proved to be a spin-off from the original discussion among councillors which revolved around weighing the options of the Regional Steering Committee’s plan to seek either society or commission status.
Municipal Administrator Lucien Turcotte started off the discussion by stating that both options came with their own distinct set of pros and cons, prior to adding that an estimated 30 commissions had already been established in the province.
One of the most notable differences between a commission and society, he explained, is that a commission is legislated by the Alberta government whereas societies are formed under the Society’s Act.
Reeve Donald Dumont went one step further by adding there were difference in terms of liability concerns which coincided with each option.
“The bad thing about a commission is you’re creating an independent level of government and administration which has the full power to borrow and set its own bylaws. There is, however, no liability issues that can come back to us under a commission,” said Reeve Dumont.
Councillor Robert Brochu said he felt it was premature of council to talk about regionalization before taking a much harder look at the overall operating costs involved with keeping their three landfills in operation.
“We conformed to Alberta Environment’s Sept. 1 deadline so that we would have a little bit of leeway. We were pressured then and we’re being pressured now. It’s time to sit back and weigh all of our options,” he said matter-of-factly.
Reeve Donald Dumont said he concurred with the comments of Coun. Brochu, adding that they certainly didn’t want to put the cart before the horse in reference to the regionalization plan.
“I agree with Robert. Why are we in such a rush?” he asked.
George Gour, director of operations for the municipality, was asked to provide a financial breakdown to council regarding the costs of keeping all three municipally-owned landfill sites open. The estimates, which were carried out by UMA Engineering Ltd. out of Edmonton, revealed that operating the three landfills in Jean Coté, Guy and Whitemud would result in an estimated annual operating cost of $164,000 in addition to another $114,000 in capital expenditures.
“I would have to debate those figures. To me they seem to be a bit on the high side,” Gour said.
Counc. Brochu said the one thing he wanted to avoid at all costs was the possibility of ratepayers within the M.D. being charged tippage fees at some point in the future.
“We need to do what’s right for us,” he said. “I’m not against the regionalization thing. I’m against costly services.”
Turcotte said he it would be critical from a fiscal standpoint for the M.D. to only pick up its share of waste entering a regional landfill as opposed to splitting the tonnage costs across the board with the other municipalities.
“We want the costs to be based on the amount of solid waste generated by each individual municipality,” Turcotte said.
Reeve Dumont said he would bring the information to the next Regional Steering Committee meeting Oct. 30, indicating they were leaning towards the formation of a commission but wanted to investigate their own costs further prior to moving ahead.

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