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Scavenging comes up again at City Hall

The issue of whether North Battleford should allow for scavenging at the landfill was back at City Hall last week.

The issue of whether North Battleford should allow for scavenging at the landfill was back at City Hall last week.

In the discussion, members of the City's municipal services focused less on whether to adopt scavenging at the landfill and more on the practices at the waste management facility itself, with general agreement from several councillors there ought to be some changes to manage intake.

The issue of scavenging was talked about at recent meetings as a possible way to divert reusable items away from the landfill and take some of the pressure off the facility.

The committee looked at policies in place in Yellowknife, N.W.T., whose waste management facility allows scavenging under strict guidelines and monitoring.

Last week, Public Works Director Stewart Schafer came back with a report on the policies in place in Prince George, B.C.

Prince George has a bylaw that does not allow scavenging at the landfill itself. However, it does operate a swap shed at the entrance of the landfill, where people are allowed to bring items.

A full-time employee monitors and evaluates all items people believe to be of value and salvageable. If it is deemed non-salvageable, it is directed to the onsite garbage bins or specific dump areas.

There is a strict time limit of 15 minutes where people can go through the swap shed and examine and select items. Each Thursday, the shed is closed and all items are place in the recycle scrap piles or taken to the landfill.

Schafer's report also noted that, similar to Yellowknife, Prince George has had success in reducing material entering the landfill, but warned the swap shed must be constantly monitored to prevent it from becoming messy and hazardous.

While scavenging was a topic of discussion, the discussion that followed wound up being a broader one on an issue faced for a while: how the waste management facility ought to handle the seemingly endless amount of items that are filling the cells.

Councillor Brad Pattinson decried the disorganization at the waste management facility, saying it has slipped back to being a "dump."

"There is everything out there," said Pattinson, who added "we bury way too much."

He suggested changing management practices to turn it back into an organized waste management facility.

"It wouldn't take much," said Pattinson, who suggested small changes might be enough to separate the streams of garbage. Pattinson also pushed for better monitoring.

Councillor Trent Houk suggested setting up two separate bins - one for aluminum and one for scrap metal - as a potential simple solution to divert items out of the pit.

Administration plans to look at best practises and diversion techniques used at some of the other landfills in the province and get back to council on the issue.