Solid Waste & Recycling


Ashcroft Ranch landfill controversy

A coalition of people has formed to oppose transformation of a large ranch in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, but proponents...

A coalition of people has formed to oppose transformation of a large ranch in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, but proponents say it is necessary and will be safe. The proposed landfill, the biggest in B.C. history, is scheduled to open in 2007 on a site owned by the GVRD called the Ashcroft Cattle Ranch.

Opponents say that if residents recycled more often instead of using garbage cans, the massive facility would not be needed. The coalition hammered home the "green theme" when the Greater Vancouver Regional District board met recently to discuss sending the project to the environmental approval stage.

"A beautiful, working ranch shouldn’t be turned into a mountain of garbage," said Vancouver environmental lawyer Joyce Thayer. The rolling grasslands and scenic locale formed the backdrop for a movie starring Jennifer Lopez last year.

Thayer cites a GVRD study on "wasted waste" to support her claims that more than half of the garbage headed to the landfill could be composted or recycled and the rest go to Lower Mainland landfills. A report by Sperling Hansen Associates indicates that 43 per cent of residential waste can be composted, 11 per cent is recyclable plastics and newspaper, and two per cent contains hazardous metals from televisions, stereos and computers. (The numbers were obtained by studying refuse at the North Shore Transfer Station.)

The report from GVRD landfill manager Jonn Braman recommends submitting the project to the Environmental Assessment Office. Further approvals are needed and more public feedback will be sought before the landfill can be constructed three years from now.

Braman, a specialist in soils and environmental management, says the landfill is necessary to meet waste-disposal needs projected at 500,000 tonnes annually. The landfill is expected to last more than 50 years.

"The semi-arid environment, seismic stability, topographic features and soil conditions provide inherent safeguards," he says. "Lower Mainland residents have achieved a 50-per-cent reduction in waste. Some folks could do a better job, but there is still a need for a landfill."

The GVRD’s garbage is currently trucked to Cache Creek, which is located down the road from Ashcroft in the province’s dry belt. The Ashcroft ranch will be returned to 800 head of grazing cattle as each section of it is covered over.

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