Waste-management strategy not a waste, states province

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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The province is spending far more on its waste-management strategy than originally intended. It is also failing to meet its own timelines for bringing in changes to the status quo, according to the provincial auditor general (AG).
In 2002, the provincial government released a strategy to modernize waste management, providing long-term solutions for dealing with the province's garbage.

Bringing the plan into effect did not happen right away because of a lack of funding, the AG states in his latest report, released Thursday. The strategy was reconsidered and ultimately re-released in 2007.

Both in 2002 and 2007, the estimated cost of making the plan a reality was $200 million. However, the final cost is expected to overrun that estimate by 58 per cent, with the current expectation on total costs at $315.8 million.

In total, as of 2013, the province has spent $146.4 million on the strategy - including work to regionalize waste management, close scattered dumpsites and shut down incinerators.

The waste-management strategy included specific targets through to 2020, but those targets are not all being met.

The province was not able to end the open burning of garbage by 2012, or reach a goal of a 50 per cent diversion of waste by 2015.

It has been able to phase out use of incinerators, the AG's report states, and will likely achieve a reduction in the number of waste-disposal sites in the province by 80 per cent by 2020.

Yet, "not only have projected costs exceeded what was initially budgeted, the scope of the work that had been planned in order to implement the strategy has been reduced," states the report.

It also highlights the fact consideration is being given to the creation of an unlined landfill in Labrador, not in accordance with environmental standards. Specific waste-management standards for Labrador have not yet been established.

Meanwhile, an interdepartmental steering committee providing oversight for the waste-management strategy has been inactive for two years. When the AG's office requested the minutes for committee meetings from 2008 to 2013, none were provided.

In response, the provincial government has acknowledged missed targets to date, but also highlighted the progress made in all of the areas covered by the strategy.

"Further refinement of the strategy may be required as we work towards the goal of provincewide modern waste management by 2020," stated a joint statement from the departments represented on the waste-management strategy oversight committee.


Geographic location: Labrador

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