Options suggested for doomed plant

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County has updated its briefing document to lobby government to find alternative options for the Swan Hills Waste Treatment Centre after it is scheduled to close in 2025.
At its regular meeting Sept. 28, council approved the briefing document which adds some new information since the original document was approved by council Oct. 27, 2021.
Updated information was brought to light when Enilda – Big Meadow Councillor Lane Monteith attended the Alberta Co-ordinated Action for Recycling Enterprises (CARE) conference, said Brett Hawken, director of community and protective services.
“It adds value to the briefing,” said Hawken, who presented the draft document.
Once the plant closes and all the bio-waste (hospital waste) goes to other treatment plants, what happens happens to all the hazardous household waste?
Does it go to Alberta landfills? Will it get shipped out of country or overseas?
Big Lakes council understands that two companies have an interest to purchase the facility, the document notes.
It leads to more questions in the briefing.
Is it possible to sell or come to an agreement to keep the facility open?
Has the province explored options to sell it to private enterprise?
Is it possible to convert the plant’s steam to generate electricity and put in back into the grid?
Council also wants to know how much money the waste treatment centre has generated for the Province of Alberta.
The document has been shared with the Town of Swan Hills.
Both Big Lakes County and Swan Hills request the province provide the municipalities with a grant in the amount of $250,000, similar to the Coal Transition Fund to seek outside expertise to develop other possible options for the site.
The plant accepts hazardous waste from across Canada, ranging from household waste gathered in toxic waste round-ups, chemical laboratory waste from schools to hazardous waste generated by industrial facilities, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
When the plant closes, it will be a devastating blow” for both municipalities, the document states.
Big Lakes will lose $1.16 million in direct tax revenue each year, the original document states.
“Both our communities wish to be partners in finding a solution that will reduce the province’s $176 million reclamation liability of the site while simultaneously diversifying and stimulating the local economy,” the document says.
“We believe there are other alternatives for the site; alternatives that will allow the province to offset reclamation cost and divest of the asset while contributing to the economic development of the region.”
Closing the plant will also hurt Swan Hills.
“For an industry town of 1,300, people with limited other employment options, eliminating 110 jobs means many of those employees and their families will be forced to move away from the community and their homes,” the documents.
When the initial briefing was approved in October 2021, Reeve Robert Nygaard said the centre was operating about one day a month.

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