BLACK DIAMOND — Black Diamond councillors say cutting hours and service at the recycling centre could cost taxpayers, rather than save money as suggested by their neighbours to the west.
Black Diamond town council voted unanimously at its Feb. 5 meeting to not support Turner Valley council’s suggestion to eliminate plastic collection and reduce the Oilfields Recycling Centre’s hours of operation to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, eliminating Wednesday and Friday.
The facility is cost shared between Black Diamond, Turner Valley and Foothills County, therefore all decisions must be agreed upon mutually between the three parties.
Black Diamond Coun. Brian Marconi said while Turner Valley administration claims the cuts would save each town $21,000, he supplied his own calculations that show that eliminating plastic at the recycling centre could cost more in garbage collection.
“If we don’t take plastics it’s going to go into our solid waste,” he told council. “How much more volume is it going to take?”
Marconi said an additional tonne of garbage per week, at a tipping fee of $68 a tonne, would result in a $3,536 annual increase.
If an additional trip to the landfill is required each week, he said it could cost more than $10,000 annually, based on a $150 per hour cost that incorporates truck replacement capital costs, depreciation, fuel, maintenance and wages.
Increased garbage consumption would increase operating costs, which Marconi said could run in the thousands.
“The truck is going to operate longer hours and (the garbage) is going to have to be compressed more often,” he said. “It’s at least going to be one hour a week and there’s a cost to operating that truck.”
Marconi said the numbers add up and could easily exceed the cost savings at the recycling centre.
Before making a decision, Marconi said he requires more information and suggested future decisions be made collaboratively between the two towns and the county.
“It’s something that all the partners have to get together and say, ‘How do we solve the problem,’” he said. “I can’t support their decision because how did they even get to three days a week? What rationale did they use for that?”
Deputy Mayor Daryl Lalonde said he also can’t support Turner Valley council’s recommendation.
“It doesn’t sound like there was a whole lot of homework done on to it,” he said. “I would like to see more information and consultation with all parties. I don’t think it’s researched enough.”
Lalonde said the municipalities must look down the road when it comes to recycling.
“In my opinion Turner Valley is quick to cut, and I don’t think they are looking at the future,” he said. “What saves you a dollar now can cost $10 tomorrow.”
In addition to not supporting Turner Valley’s suggestion to eliminate plastic and cut hours at the recycling facility, Black Diamond council passed a motion that directs administration to suggest all three parties collaborate to determine alterative options for the recycling facility’s hours of operation and look into the financial implications on recycling plastic versus bringing it to the Foothills Regional Landfill & Resource Recovery Centre south of Okotoks.
Turner Valley Mayor Barry Crane refrained from commenting in detail about Black Diamond council's decision until the two councils have the opportunity to discuss it.
"Turner Valley is always looking to collaborate and save money where possible and this is another option we wish to investigate," Crane said. "It's great that Black Diamond is following through with some due diligence."