Waste management strategy slow to have effect
The province is spending far more on its waste management strategy than 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).
© Cheryl Little photo
Town of Wabush Mayor Ron Barron, Honorable Kevin O’Brien and MHA Nick McGrath speak with Peter Reccord, Deputy Mayor of Labrador City, during the official opening of the Labrador West Regional Landfill Site — Telegram file photo
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 today. Given the delays, 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 dump sites and shut down incinerators.
The waste management strategy included specific targets and those targets are not being met.
It was expected to:
• divert 50 per cent of material produced for disposal by 2015
• eliminate open burning sites by 2012
• phase out the use of incinerators by 2008
• reduce the number of dump sites by 80 per cent by 2020
• have full, province-wide and modern waste management 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 AG report.
The document 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 to the Office of the Auditor General, the provincial government has acknowledged missed targets to date, but also highlighted progress in all of the areas covered by the strategy.
“Further refinement of the strategy may be required as we work towards the goal of province-wide modern waste management by 2020,” stated a joint, written response from the departments represented on the oversight committee.