Janine Dougall and Bill Miller at the Knockholt Regional Landfill Site.

Regional district takes over landfill

Away with the contractors; for the first time, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako will manage the Knockholt Landfill.

Away with the contractors; for the first time, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako will take over the management of the Knockholt Landfill which serves Burns Lake, Houston, Smithers, Telkwa and Granisle in September.

The District’s spokespeople believe that by taking the work in-house, taxpayers will save anywhere from $75,000 to $180,000 yearly while maintaining services at the same level. They also predict work efficiency and service quality will increase as in-house employees will take further ownership of their work.

“The staff that are hired by the Regional District, they’re long-term sustainable jobs, and because of that and because we have a good working relationship with our staff, they buy in to the facility,” environmental services director Janine Dougall said. “And this facility becomes part of them, and so they’re proud of working at our facilities.”

Dougall spoke to this topic using her experience of taking transfer station and waste haul work back in-house.

“Whereas under contract, typically our contracts are only five years,” Dougall said. “And it’s not a long-term sustainable job, sometimes there’s just challenge with keeping the enthusiasm of the employees.”

The District came up with its cost predictions by considering depreciation, repair costs, wage inflation, operating costs and interest rates. The worst-case scenario put all of these factors together, and documents reveal that the District expects annual costs to run $559,445, whereas the lowest contractor bid stood at $633,840.

District area chairman Bill Miller also predicts this change will allow flexibility for future changes.

“There [are] some very new strict guidelines and new rules around landfilling material that are coming out that are becoming a lot more onerous and a lot more costly to actually bury garbage,” Miller said.

He also sees society moving towards landfilling less, making it difficult to predict future garbage quantities.

“Contractors predominately want a secure contract that tells them that they’re going to make this amount of money when they invest in their equipment and manpower,” Miller said. “As Janine says, we’re more cost-effective at doing it within our own organization.”

The current contractor, Hoban Equipment Ltd. will move all its equipment and staff out with the coming expiry of its contract. They were unavailable for comment.

In preparation for making the switch, the District is training staff, receiving new equipment and hoping for a seamless transition. The landfill’s fleet will consist of two trucks, a CAT heavy work vehicle and an excavator.

“We’ve also applied through the federal government gas tax, which is a grant opportunity for infrastructure and we’ve applied for a fairly significant percentage of getting the money to put the equipment in here,” Miller said.

If that goes through, Miller says taxpayers will see a reduction in the expense buying the heavy machinery.

 

 

 

 

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