In recent months legislative changes and other initiatives have impacted waste management activities.
Prince Edward Island’s plan to privatize waste management throughout the province has been revised. (See article, page 16) Instead, a Crown corporation — the Island Waste Management Corporation, created on June 1, 1999 — will manage waste disposal sites and address waste transportation. The corporation is responsible for the implementation of the province’s “Waste Watch” strategy and must operate the system in the same manner outlined in the request for proposal originally to the private sector. Previously, the Island Waste Management Commission handled waste issues. The commission has been dissolved and the new corporation has assumed the staff, assets, liabilities and agreements of the former commission.
In Quebec, the Committee on Transportation and the Environment held public hearings in September as part of its general consultation on the proposed amendments to the Environment Quality Act and other waste management provisions. The intent behind the proposed legislation is to implement Quebec’s Waste Management Action Plan 1998-2008 and to increase the responsibility of local and regional governments. These governments will be required to engage in public consultation for waste management decisions. The draft amendments also provide the framework for the committee to issue regulations related to packaging stewardship and stewardship for household hazardous waste.
“It appears that British Columbia has been the leader in enforcing its waste management legislation.”
In the Northwest Territories the government issued a guideline on May 4, 1999 for the management of agricultural waste under its Environmental Protection Act. The guideline creates minimum standards for the handling, storage and disposal of manure waste and dead animals, and includes site requirements for intensive agricultural operations in situations where local municipal bylaws are absent.
In Saskatchewan, the Litter Control Amendment Act, 1999 received royal assent and came into force on May 6, 1999. The bill makes it illegal for individuals to claim deposit refunds on beverage containers where the deposit and the environmental handling charges on the containers have not been paid to the province. The amendment was intended to address the problem of individuals importing large quantities of beverage containers into Saskatchewan and then claiming a deposit refund. Depot operators can now set return rate limits and request customers to show identification. Where depot operators have reason to believe that the handling charges and deposits have not been paid, they are entitled to refuse payment. The amendments also permit enforcement officers to stop and inspect vehicles and seize containers, and provide for fines of up to $25,000 and a jail term for three months for violations.
From an enforcement perspective, it appears that British Columbia has been the leader in enforcing its waste management legislation. For example, in the report issued by the Ministry of Environment, Lands & Parks that covers the period from April 1 to September 30, 1998, a total of 317 charges were laid against 156 businesses and individuals. This resulted in fines totalling over $87,000.
The report indicates that 166 charges were issued under the Waste Management Act and regulations. These represent approximately 60 per cent of the total charges during the reporting period. The total fines related to waste management issues were $51,510. This was approximately 59 per cent of the total fines related to all environmental offences. The report contains a comprehensive listing of all companies charged, with details on the charges and the fines imposed. In times when regulatory authorities in the various provinces provide such little information with regard to enforcement, it’s encouraging to see B.C. take the initiative.