Mayor's Musings for August 2023—By Steve Fairbairn, Mayor for the District of Elkford

By Tasha

Mayor's Musings for August 2023

by Steve Fairbairn, Mayor for the District of Elkford


Hello, Elkfordians! Fall is in the air, and I hope that the end of summer has treated you and your families well!

In this edition, we’re going to be talking about waste. Let’s waste no time getting into it…


On Recycling Costs and Convienence 

Yes, there are sometimes costs associated with recycling and using the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK)’s Transfer Station in Elkford. Yes, there are bureaucratic reasons as to why Elkfordians must pay to drop some things off at the transfer station. in one or two instances, we must pay a lot to not pollute. Arrrggh.

Which doesn’t always make sense to me. Some people end up leaving things in the “free shed” instead of tossing them into the waste stream, while other folks decide to utilize the great outdoors around town to rid themselves of trash.

Then there are the items that aren’t accepted at all locally: such as brake fluid, for one example.

Why is this? Well, because items labelled as hazardous waste are a problem—a problem both to store and to handle. They have requirements beyond what local staff and space can deal with. Examples of things that fall under this umbrella are brake fluid, paint and gasoline. So, surely that means we can take to them Fernie bottle depot for disposal? Wait…maybe not? So then, what to do with them? The only thing that I can say is to return them to the seller for proper disposal. I know, I know—that’s not convenient at all either.

Construction waste --> to Sparwood. Tires that are larger than 18 inches? OMG, no! Small ones like ATV tires? OMG, no!
“You are supposed to take those back to the point of purchase.” Fair enough, but this doesn’t offset the effort you must put in and the total lack of convenience though, does it?

I’m guessing this is where the whole “toss ‘em in the woods” mentality must kick in, as that seems a lot easier than taking tires back to Lethbridge or mailing them back to the seller (if you bought them online—not that I know anyone who buys motorcycle tires online). The reason, I hear, is “we are not part of the Tire Stewardship BC program.” Well, maybe the RDEK should be? Maybe GFL Environmental should be?

Anyone remember the tire that was put around the tree stump along the trail to Josephine Falls? Well, the tire situation is going to improve (so I’ve been told by a representative at the RDEK), so the disposal of ATV tires and other sizes of tires should become easier in the future.

What about those of you who contribute to the betterment of the region by cleaning up after others—whether it be the ditches along Highway 43, or Fording River Road, or the backwoods and trails around Elkford? You’re generously donating your time, effort and money to clean up the land around only to be faced with a disposal issue at the end of it all. Simply not fair!

On this issue, I have a solution. When you plan on spending your time cleaning up the litter left by others, call the RDEK Environmental Services Department (1-888-478-7335 or 250-489-2791), navigate through the automated process and then inform RDEK Environmental Service staff about your plans to bring found wastes (tires, Styrofoam, furniture, etc.) to the transfer station for proper disposal. You will be asked for your licence plate number and a vehicle description (to be passed on to the operator at the Transfer Station). Then, when you arrive, you will not be charged for the disposal of these materials that you have pulled out of the bush.

Thank you to all who go the extra mile to help keep our forests, roadsides and community clean!


On Sewage Lagoons

Let’s look at another waste issue… sewage lagoons!

This problem stinks (sorry, I couldn’t stop myself), and it has taken a very long time to get to this result. Inefficient oxygenation, poor physical turnover of organics, large chunks and inorganic items have all played a part in the situation we are in. Blah blah blah.

So, what is the District of Elkford doing about it? Replacing the machinery and the system used to add oxygen and that keeps things stirred up and oxygenated. That requires a design plan—which is underway—as is the process of hiring the construction company to do the installation. A lagoon sludge survey has been ordered to get a detailed picture of the depth and physical contents of the sludge layer on the bottom of the ponds to assist in the plan.

The planning has also started to design a step in the process of receiving sewage from the sewer mains, the addition of a separation process to remove the inorganics from the waste stream. All those Sani-wipes and other “compostable” things that get flushed? They mess up the system in a big way, because they do not decompose in the lagoons, leading to a reduced life cycle—which is why their packaging states not to flush them.

Sewage lagoons and the sewage system improvements are critical infrastructure repairs that are a top concern to your mayor, council and staff at the District of Elkford. It took decades for the problem to develop, and it will take months to turn it all around. We’re on it!


Until next time,
Mayor Steve

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