By Trevor Busch
The Town of Taber has elected to go their own way after the M.D. of Taber’s development authority denied an application to have a compost site located at the town’s waste transfer station.
At their May 11 meeting, council voted unanimously to direct administration to prepare a draft bylaw to amend Land-Use Bylaw 4-2006 to create a direct control district of approximately 10 hectares (25 acres) at the northern corner of NW 8-10-16-4 and NE 8-10-16-4, immediately south of 80th Avenue, in order to accommodate composting, recycling, and associated waste handling facilities.
“In short, as you all know, the M.D. turned down Bio-Can’s application for a composting facility at our waste transfer site,” said CAO Greg Birch. “Council passed motions previous to this directing that administration look for sites within our town boundaries that might accommodate a similar facility, as well as a potential recycling facility. Obviously, this ties into our municipal solid waste initiative.”
In 2014, council was asked by compost operator Bio-Can for lease of land at the town’s regional waste management site for development of a composting facility. After investigation of the lease proposal, council approved the request.
In conjunction with the town’s recently approved roll-out three cart municipal solid waste initiative, it was anticipated that a composting facility in close proximity to the town would represent significant savings to residents through waste diversion, up to an estimated $200,000 annually, or roughly $85 per tonne in savings through reduced hauling and tipping fees. Finished material from a compost site is also expected to be used to top-dress town sports fields and parks.
Coun. Rick Popadynetz inquired if any estimates as to how may people might potentially be employed at the site have been arrived at if construction were to move forward.
“That’s a really good question,” said Birch. “We’re talking to Bio-Can about the site — they know about the site by the way — if it’s really successful, I was thinking five or even 10.”
Coun. Randy Sparks commented that future considerations will be inconsequential if site approvals and development are not expedited.
“I don’t think we need to worry about that right now,” said Sparks. “The most important part is to get this thing going, because the economic spin off from this will be fantastic, but it has to get going first. We need to make sure we get after this thing as quick as we can, and get it in place, so this can all start happening. It will be an awesome thing, but it’s only awesome when it’s built.”
Bio-Can applied to the M.D. of Taber for a development permit for the compost site in late 2014, but was ultimately refused by the M.D. of Taber’s Subdivision and Development Authority on April 20 due to concerns over odours and debris.
According to administration, “in that the decision was taking so long, town council suspected that the M.D. may refuse the development” and decided to begin seeking alternative sites.
The alternative site recommended by administration is on 80th Avenue, roughly mid-way between 50th Street and Highway 36, and is considered to be removed from residential areas with good access.
Although there will be added costs involved surrounding development, it was noted that electrical hook-ups, water and sewer mains are in close proximity to the proposed site. The proposed 10 hectare (25 acre) site has allowances for potential expansion, as well as the possible development of a recycled waste sorting facility. The site is positioned in the corner of the two quarter sections to minimize the impact on the ongoing agricultural use.
In order for the site to move forward, council would be required to rezone the land and subdivide the sites on each quarter section from the rest of the parcels. The land is currently zoned Urban Reserve Industrial (UR-M) under Bylaw 4-2006, prohibiting a composting and recycling facility as either a permitted or discretionary use.
Designating the site as a Direct Control District would allow for greater flexibility in development, and place council in the decision-making role.