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Purchase of $1 million compactor is expected to save Whitewater millions

April 26, 2024
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By Marie Zettler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Originally published in the Penticton Herald

Cobden -- Whitewater Region is acquiring a $861,431 piece of equipment which is expected to extend the life of its landfill site for 15 years or more and save the municipality between $10 to $16 million dollars.

“Overall, the savings to the landfill users, if a landfill compactor were to be purchased, would be in the order of $10-$16 million over the 37 years,” explained Environmental Services Superintendent Deanna Nicholson at a meeting of council on February 7.

Following her extensive presentation, council approved the purchase of a Bomag BC473 RB-5 landfill compactor from Alberta-based SMS Equipment. The price includes HST and the services of technicians from SMS Equipment who will attend the landfill at the time of delivery and provide training to as many staff as requested in the operation of the machine. SMS Equipment personnel will also be available to return as required to provide refresher or new operator training.

The quoted price also includes all parts and labour for the first 50 hours (gear oil), 250 hours (engine oil), and 500 and 1,000-hour preventative maintenance servicing. Additionally, SMS Equipment will provide training to the township’s mechanics during each of the first four services, in order to complete the preventative maintenance required going forward.

A five-year extended warranty will add another $15,000 to the cost, but the township is benefitting from a 28.5 per cent discount off the regular price by purchasing it through the Canoe Procurement Group of Canada, a partnership of municipal associations across the country.

Before recommending the purchase to council, WW staff looked at several used machines manufactured between 2003 and 2020, with total machine hours between 1,000 and 13,500 hours. Pricing ranged between $285,000 and $745,000.

Superintendent Nicholson told council the compactor will substantially increase the operating lifespan of the landfill.

“A landfill’s lifespan is directly related to how much waste is received and how well that waste is compacted to remove void spaces,” she said. “Uncompacted waste takes up more valuable airspace and fills the landfill at a faster rate than well-compacted waste does. In 2022, 3,660 tonnes of waste were landfilled (4,167 tonnes including cover material) and 8,500m3 airspace was consumed. At the 2022 filling rate, the approximate remaining life expectancy of the landfill is approximately 19 to 20 years, resulting in an anticipated closure date of 2043. However, 2023 landfill scale data suggests that filling rates are increasing, as 5,206 tonnes of waste was landfilled in 2023 (5,667 tonnes including cover material). A modest increase in the compaction rate at the Whitewater landfill to 700 kg/m3, attained by employing a landfill compactor, would result in the approximately 15 additional years of life (to the facility).”

The machine has a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years.

The annual cost for regular maintenance (parts and materials only) is estimated at $3,200.

Superintendent Nicholson said should a compactor not be included in its landfill operations, resulting in an anticipated closure date of 2043, the township will need to identify an alternate location to dispose of its waste, as it is unlikely the municipality will be able to open a new landfill within its boundaries. At this time most municipalities in Eastern Ontario that do not have landfills within their own boundaries utilize a landfill facility at Moose Creek, a community east of Ottawa. The company that operates it, GFL, also operates a transfer station in Beckwith Township in Lanark County, where waste and recycling is bulked for shipping to Moose Creek.

“Unless an alternate technology or dumpsite is identified, use of the Moose Creek facility via the Beckwith Transfer station would be a viable but costly solution which would include the continued operation of a transfer station within Whitewater Township, presumably at the existing Kohlsmith Road site,” said Superintendent Nicholson.

Extending the Life

After hearing the presentation, Councillor Mike Moore said he was in favour of the purchase.

“The main thing that came through in our budget deliberations was that we need to extend the life of our landfill in the future,” he said.

Councillor Chris Olmstead asked for confirmation that current Whitewater staff can operate the equipment and no additional staff will have to be hired.

“Yes, they will be provided training by SMS,” said Superintendent Nicholson. “And our current landfill staff is a heavy equipment operator.”

Coun. Olmstead said he came in to the discussion with the attitude “you’ll have to sell me on it.”

“One million is a big-ticket item,” he said. “(But) I think I’m in favour of it.”

The method of financing will be finalized at the time the machine is delivered, and leasing is still an option.

“At this time, we can’t say what the most fiscally responsible option will be for the township,” said Treasurer Kurtis McGonegal.

He explained the purchase hasn’t been included in the 2024 budget, as delivery of the unit won’t be until later this year, resulting in the first debenture payment not being due until 2025.

“We can’t enter into a debenture until we have an actual invoice,” he said.

Staff has been advised that, if it is ordered this month, the delivery date will be in July 2024.

“If it is debentured, payments won’t start until 2025, but if it is leased, payments will start right away,” said the treasurer.

The motion to acquire the machine passed unanimously.

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