Recent History – 2000
June 8, 2000, By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Concerns about turning the Bessborough dump into a regional landfill drew more than 50 people to an informational meeting Wednesday evening at the Peace River Regional District (PRRD) offices.
The meeting was intended to be informal, with those attending getting a look at the maps and plans and then filling out a comment sheet.
But the format changed at the behest of residents who demanded some answers to questions they had about the proposal.
Concerns about bears, trucks, and the impact on a nearby gymkhana site were raised.
August Lehmann brought with him a list of 10 reasons why the regional landfill should not be located at Bessborough. He argued that the concentration of waste at such a site would be too much.
“Put a nail in your lawn, and the ground will handle it so that in some time ahead, you will find almost no evidence of it having been there,” he said. “Bury 100 pounds of nails in your lawn and you will find pollution of high levels of iron and whatever the nails were coated with for a long time ahead.”
Hats and Chaps Gymkhana Society director Lyne Argent said the site will attract more bears which will create a safety risk for the users of the gymkhana located north of the landfill.
The promise that a bear fence would be installed around the perimeter of the site did little to allay concerns. One resident painted a scenario of panicking bears running through the gymkhana site after getting a shock from the fence.
Ministry of Environment environmental protection officer Larry Gardner conceded that it may take some time to ward off the bears, but he said that once they know they cannot get any food and will get an electric shock instead, they will move on.
“They’re not going to hang around,” he said.
Others raised concerns about the condition of the road to the site, arguing that contrary to PRRD assertions it’s not a truck route.
If Bessborough is turned into a regional landfill, it will service all the homes and businesses from East Pine west, and replace the existing landfills in Dawson Creek and Progress.
There are two other sites on a shortlist, north of the Kiskatinaw River and east of the provincial park via Alaska Highway and 224 east, and two sites at the north end of the Bear Mountain grazing reserve Ñ one east and one west of the Kiskatinaw River.
But so far Bessborough is considered to be the best site. “But that doesn’t mean that the decision has been made,” PRRD chair Karen Goodings told the onlookers.
Likewise, consultant Konrad Fitchner of Reid Crowther said that tests for such things as ground water levels and subsurface soil must still be conducted.
He said that if run properly, it would take 50 years to fill half of the quarter section that the PRRD is looking at for the site.
The PRRD wants to reduce the number of landfills to three from seven — one for the North Peace, one for the South Peace, and one for the Chetwynd area.
By doing so, they say that the cost of waste management will be reduced.