Plaudits for Councillor Iona Stoddard

District 12 Councillor Iona Stoddard deserves applause for her principled position on Mirror Nova Scotia’s fee increase which made her a standout at HRM Regional Council this month.

According to The Signal, the online publication produced by senior students at the University of Kings College School of Journalism, Coun. Stoddard cast “the sole vote against the contract extension” that gives Mirror Nova Scotia a $2 million windfall next year just to keep operating the Otter Lake Landfill.

Stoddard, a member of the CMC, represents residents in Beechville, Lakeside, Timberlea, Clayton Park West  and Wedgewood.

Many of her residents oppose HRM’s and Mirror Nova Scotia’s plan to deactivate the landfill’s front-end processor and waste stabilization facility.

Based on news reports, it seems the timeline of their joint application to the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Climate Change to deactivate the equipment and processes triggered Mirror Nova Scotia’s demand for more money next year from HRM. The provincial decision on the sought-after approval will not come before the new year.

Last July a Saltwater story mentioned Mirror Nova Scotia’s plan to sweeten its contract if deactivation approval didn’t come by year’s end: “Staff say if the equipment isnʼt deactivated, Mirror Nova Scotia, which operates the landfill, will likely push for an early termination of its contract with HRM and increase its processing fees from $125 per tonne to $170 per tonne, which could come at an annual cost increase of approximately $2 million.”

The $125 per tonne figure is the all-inclusive processing fee set in a 2016 agreement between Mirror Nova Scotia and HRM for solid waste disposal at Otter Lake, but the figure was subject to adjustment annually for inflation. A June 29 staff report, prepared for Regional Council indicated the fee in 2021 is now $135.79 per tonne.

The Signal reported that when Coun. Stoddard questioned Andrew Philopoulos, HRM’s director of solid waste resources, about the price differential, she was told the $170 covered the continued operation of the front-end processor and the waste stabilization facility and “he confirmed once deactivation happens, the standard fee will be $135.”  The amount is basically the same that Mirror Nova Scotia now receives, and the lower tonnage processing fee currently covers operation of the front-end processor and waste stabilization facility.

Coun. Stoddard told The Signal, that she did not support the increase to Mirror because, “We’re going to pay an increased rate for a service that didn’t need to stop.”

The June 29 staff report for Regional Council, provides some background on the processing fee paid to Mirror Nova Scotia under HRM’s 20-year agreement , effective since Jan. 1, 2016.

“As part of the 2016 Agreement, HRM agreed to pay an all- inclusive processing fee of $125 per tonne [adjusted annually for inflation] to Mirror for solid waste received, processed, and disposed of at Otter Lake. The all-inclusive processing fee includes the construction and closure of landfill cells. Between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2021, pursuant to the 2016 Agreement, Mirror has the option to provide notice of early of termination in the event that the legal entitlements have not been amended to remove the obligation to operate the FEP/WSF. Should Mirror decide to provide notice of early termination, the all-inclusive processing fee would be increased to $170 per tonne, with the contract expiring on December 31, 2023.

In addition, under the 2016 Agreement, Mirror was allowed to establish a transfer station at Otter Lake to transfer ICI waste to landfills outside the boundaries of HRM for disposal.”

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