If one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, then a landfill is, well, maybe not a gold mine – but it could mean big bucks to the local economy.
© Cole Burston.
Ross Wallace is the district manager for Waste Management.
By David Sali
The province’s recent announcement that it has approved plans for a new landfill on Carp Road sparked a flood of criticism from some nearby residents who worry the facility will create odour, pollution and traffic problems.
But for local construction firms and other related businesses, the project is definitely a green initiative – as in, the colour of money.
The West Carleton Environmental Centre, where owner Waste Management of Canada plans a landfill that will take 400,000 tonnes of mostly construction and commercial waste each year for 10 years. The facility is a huge undertaking that will employ hundreds of people from construction workers and engineers to welders and electricians.
The project will pump millions of dollars back into the local economy, company officials say.
“People just think that landfills are just a hole in the ground they fill up,” says Waste Management site manager Ross Wallace, who is responsible for the Carp facility. “That’s the old style of landfill. These second-generation landfills are extremely well-engineered and extremely well put-together. There’s a lot that goes into them. It’s not by any means just dig a hole in the ground and away you go.”
Today’s typical landfill construction project is far more complicated than that.
Trash isn’t just dumped on the ground – the landfill floor is actually a mix of two layers of densely compacted clay almost a metre thick, followed by alternating layers of drainage gravel. The layers are separated by thin sheets of plastic and textile fabric to guard against contaminants seeping into the groundwater and soil.
It’s a painstaking process. Waste Management’s proposal calls for the new Carp Road facility to be built in eight sections, with the first two done at the same time and the others to be added as needed. Each section takes a full construction year to complete.
“You’re putting hundreds of millions of dollars back into the construction fields alone” when all is said and done, Mr. Wallace says, adding the project is still several years away, so its actual cost is not known yet. “It puts a lot of money into the local economy, for sure. We’re very keen to use as much local content as we can. It makes for a lot of happy contractors.”
There are other economic spinoffs as well, he notes. The company says the project will create up to 75 jobs at recycling, waste diversion and green energy facilities such as the plant already operating at the Carp Road site that converts landfill gas into electricity.
The landfill could potentially generate up to $1 million a year in host fees for the city, Mr. Wallace adds, and the company has also created a trust fund that gives $60,000 a year to one of three wards near the facility – West Carleton, Kanata North and Stittsville – for community projects such as splash pads.