Regional recycling pitch attracts interest

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Marissa Oteiza, left, the Hay River office manager with Ecology North, chats with Mayor Brad Mapes following an Oct. 19 meeting in Enterprise on a regional waste transfer facility.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Marissa Oteiza, left, the Hay River office manager with Ecology North, chats with Mayor Brad Mapes following an Oct. 19 meeting in Enterprise on a regional waste transfer facility.

It seems there are a lot of people interested in Ecology North’s idea of establishing a regional waste transfer station in the South Slave, possibly in Enterprise.

An Oct. 19 public meeting in Enterprise on the idea attracted 17 people from the region.

“I’m really impressed with the turnout,” said Marissa Oteiza, the manager of the Ecology North office in Hay River. “There are more people here than I was expecting. So it’s good.”

A waste transfer station would be a kind of recycling facility where people from surrounding communities could bring their recyclable materials which would be re-used or sorted, stored and then shipped out.

Ecology North is focused on recycling but several speakers at the meeting suggested that any new recycling facility should be tied to a new landfill site.

“For it to make sense, you have to tie the two together,” said deputy mayor Donna Lee Jungkind of Hay River.

Mayor Brad Mapes of Hay River suggested that somewhere like the old Pine Point mine site might be considered, especially considering it is a central location for Hay River, Fort Smith and Fort Resolution.

“You’ve got to find somewhere with a huge hole,” he said, suggesting it would also make sense in an old gravel pit.

Oteiza told the meeting that Ecology North is thinking more in terms of recycling.

“Ecology North is not supporting the creation of a landfill,” she told The Hub after the meeting. “We realize it’s a reality for the communities but we’re more looking from the waste transfer, waste reduction perspective.”

Oteiza said Ecology North realizes that there will be an eventual endpoint for the waste that cannot be recycled.

“But we’re just trying to help reduce the waste that’s eventually going to end up in that final landfill and kind of grab out the paper, plastics, cardboard that can be utilized somewhere else,” she said.

One of the reasons for a proposed regional waste transfer station is to help small communities like Kakisa.

Melaine Simba, the environmental co-ordinator with the Ka’a’gee Tu First Nation in Kakisa, said recyclables from the community now have to be brought to Yellowknife.

“Sometimes the whole back of my truck is just full,” she said.

Simba said there is concern in Kakisa – a community of around 50 people – about the amount of waste going into its landfill.

“In the summertime when the wind starts picking up we’re having all these garbage bags flying all over the place,” she said.

Mayor Craig McMaster of Enterprise said there are a lot of questions about a possible waste transfer station.

“But I can see the need for it,” he said.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Oteiza suggested another meeting might be held in November or after Christmas to talk about possibly developing a business plan or creating a committee.

“Because definitely the conversation needs to keep happening,” said the representative of Ecology North.

A waste transfer station would include such material as cardboard, cans, jars, egg cartons, paper rolls and wood.

The meeting in Enterprise coincided with Waste Reduction Week from Oct. 17 to 22.

–Paul Bickford