NS: Tensions reach head as angry residents pack public meeting on Otter Lake landfill

Haley Ryan, Metro Halifax
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Metro Halifax

Councillor Rankin calls process to introduce changes a 'betrayal'

A worker sorts through garbage in the Front End Processing portion of the Otter Lake Waste Processing and Disposal Facility in this photo from June.

[HALIFAX, NS] – Tensions during a community meeting about changes to the Otter Lake landfill reached a head on Wednesday night, when area councillor Reg Rankin called the process “a betrayal.”

Rankin emphasized the community had signed a contract with the city 15 years ago that guaranteed Otter Lake would get environmental protection in the form of a waste-stabilization facility (WSF) and front-end processor (FEP).

“That’s a betrayal … you have on the table,” Rankin said during a meeting on potentially closing the WFS and FEP.

“I do not trust this administration,” Rankin said, drawing loud cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd of nearly 500.

Gord Helm, manager of solid resources, said the life of the landfill could be extended by raising the height of landfill cells, which would allow the municipality to bring all compost, recycling and garbage to the Otter Lake site – saving money on waste collection.

Resident Scott Guthrie said he was worried the cell liners might rip with more garbage, and waste could enter the nearby river.

“I want to continue to drink my well water, thank you very much,” Guthrie said.

Helm said one-third of the waste going into the landfill is organic material like potato peels that get missed by the stabilization process.

“I would say the system isn’t working,” Helm said.

Joe Mann, contract administrator for Otter Lake, spoke during the meeting and said Helm’s comment was “just not factually correct.”

Mann said anything smaller than six inches fall through a hole in the sorting process and is properly stabilized.

“That’s one heck of a big potato if it gets by a six-inch hole,” Mann said.    “We get the odd turnip, but we get those (too) because we have people at the end of the … line who inspect the material.”

Mann said nearly half of the waste in Otter Lake is recyclable, and the city should develop a “targeted” effort to get more people separating waste properly at home.

Geographic location: Otter Lake

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