INNOVATION November-December 2013
(left) Ahousaht before: Ahousaht’s landfill was previously an open dump that was spreading garbage into a local cemetery and creek. (below) Ahousaht after: Ahousaht’s new landfill covering made of locally sourced rock, soils, and organics.
resources, so it’s taking care of the earth. The planet’s health is a big thing in the communities.” Improving Local Landscapes “It was such an eyesore,” recalls Pam Frank, Band Administrator and local point person for the waste management project in Ahousaht, recalling her West coast community’s former landfill. “We had an open dump, an open land fill. We couldn’t burn because of respiratory issues...Garbage was being spread in the cemetery and one of the creeks that runs close to the old landfill was contaminated. Typically, uncontrolled landfills are closed by first covering them with a low permeability cap to minimize the generation of leachate. But those can be costly in a remote location and are based on an assumption that the landfill is hurting the environment.
Adds Douglas: “We encouraged each community to set up a solid waste working group, which is a cross-section of the community that includes leadership, teachers, nurses, elders, and concerned citizens.” While community representatives provided local knowledge, provincial and regional governments were also involved, as well as the Coast Waste Management Association, product stewardship organizations, local contractors, and consultants with expertise in risk assessment, environmental science, and project management. As a result of the extensive collaboration, each community has a waste solution tailored to its own particular circumstances. From the outset, Chu says the communities were keen to close their landfills and deal with their waste in a more environmentally friendly way. “I think it’s to do with the First Nations’ respect for the earth. Recycling is reusing the
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i n n o v a t i o n
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