Questions & Answers.
Over the past six months, in order to help local residents to understand the project Prairie Sky has
produced several sets of answers to your questions.
There are, unfortunately, some people in the region who have tried to spread misinformation.
We have always believed in transparency and disclosure. Our applications to Alberta Environment and the M.D. of Foothills provide a host of detailed studies exploring every aspect of the construction, and operation of Prairie Sky and the eventual closure of the Class II Landfill. These are public documents that you can examine on our website or in hard copy at the offices of the M.D. of Foothills.
The facts speak for themselves.
Below are answers to some questions that we have encountered in recent weeks. To view original source materials cited in the footnotes, please visit the Application page.
In addition, the attached collection of advertorials, which have run in the local papers since September, provides further depth on many of these issues. If you still have questions, please check out the studies contained in the application or just give us a call at (403) 684-3621 or mail us at: Prairie Sky Resource Centre, 3950 12 Street N.E., Calgary, Alberta T2E 8H9.
Will Prairie Sky be hiring locally?
Absolutely. We will be employing 28 people from the community to work at the site at Eltham Junction, as well as our abundant need for contractors and local suppliers at this site. In fact, we are already hiring two Foothills’ residents to staff our local information centre.
(Source: Appendix 1: Project Brief – p.17)
I have heard that local students will be able to utilize the Interpretive Centre. What will they learn there?
Southern Alberta suffers from a scarcity of facilities for students to learn about native species and habitats, especially the endangered prairie wetlands and fescue grasslands. On the south-western and eastern part of our site, we will be creating a prairie habitat preservation area, with prime examples of both prairie wetlands and grasslands.
The Interpretative Centre will provide hands-on activity areas and classroom space for visiting school groups from throughout the region to learn about these unique elements of our local environment. There will also be educational displays about modern waste diversion practices and technology, Alberta’s Too Good to Waste strategy for sustainability, the resource recovery work that will be taking place at Prairie Sky and the region’s Western heritage and history.
(Source: Appendix 4: Community Participation Report – p.22)
Will Prairie Sky be accepting waste from Calgary?
Curbside residential waste from Calgary will not go to Prairie Sky. Calgary’s household garbage goes to Calgary landfills.
This site is designed to service our customers throughout Southern Alberta, including in the M.D., and will primarily accept industrial and commercial (ICI) wastes, all of which will be solid non-hazardous waste. Approximately half of the ICI waste will be contaminated non-hazardous soil as defined by Alberta regulation. All soils are tested in order to ensure that they meet stringent regulatory guidelines before they are accepted at the site.
The recovery facility and landfill will service clients from across Southern Alberta, including our longstanding clients throughout the M.D. of Foothills. This builds on our decades of history of operations in the Foothills.
(Source: Appendix 20: Operations Plan – p.4)
Is it correct to call Prairie Sky a “dump”?
No. Prairie Sky is a modern, highly engineered environmental infrastructure development. The high tech design will improve waste diversion, recovery practices and final disposal in southern Alberta. It bears no resemblance to an old fashioned dump.
We will recover large amounts of valuable resource material – like paper, glass, wood, plastic and metal – that were landfilled in previous generations, compost organic materials, and safely landfill residual materials in a highly engineered and regulated site.
(Source: Appendix 1: Project Brief – p.5)
Has Prairie Sky identified the trucking route?
Yes. Trucks will travel down Highway 2 onto Highway 23 to access the site. No trucks will arrive via local back roads or through adjacent communities off the highway.
Any trucker who does not follow the trucking route will lose access to our site or, in case of our employee, his/her job. There will be zero tolerance for failure to conform to this policy.
(Source: Appendix 16: Traffic Safety Review – p.13)
What about road safety? Isn’t Highway 23 already a hazard, before you add more trucks?
An independent road safety consulting firm, D.A. Watt, conducted a Traffic Safety Review on Highway 23 in the M.D. of Foothills. We wanted to explore the implications of developing and operating the landfill site with its associated truck and traffic movements.
Highway 23 is classified by Alberta Transportation as a level 2 Highway, which is a highway that is designed and engineered to accommodate intra-provincial movement of people, goods and services. The volume of traffic on the highway is not controlled by BFI. Our truck traffic will add an average of 104 daily truck loads to current daily traffic totals, keeping well within the design limits of the provincial highway.
In order to maintain and improve the conditions on Highway 23, BFI Canada will make improvements – such as bypass lanes, improved lighting and signage – to further enhance road performance and ensure that the highway safely accommodates all passenger car and truck traffic related to the use of the highway.
All BFI drivers are required to undergo initial and ongoing, monthly safety training. We can say without a doubt that our drivers are as well trained and safety-conscious as any on the road. There is zero tolerance for speed and wrong route infractions. In addition, all of our trucks are equipped with the latest technological GPS monitoring equipment, to ensure compliance and safe driving habits.
(Source: Appendix 16: Traffic Safety Review)
How many trucks will Prairie Sky add to the daily traffic on the highway?
We have determined based on load volumes that the number will average 104 truck loads per day. Some opponents have claimed higher figures, which are simply incorrect. The real figures are publicly available in our application and have been previously communicated.
(Source: Appendix 15: Traffic Impact Assessment – p.12)
Will Prairie Sky lower adjacent land values?
Our experience shows that property values do not decline in the communities in which we operate. In fact, it is expected that local residents will benefit from this proposed economic development through new jobs, increased tax base to the M.D. and through community hosting fees.
However, to provide comfort and assurance to the immediate neighbours of the project, BFI Canada has a program called the property value protection plan to ensure that the property values do not decline as a direct result of our facility.
(Source: Appendix 4: Community Participation Report – p.56)
Will Prairie Sky accept hazardous waste?
No. Prairie Sky will be a Class II non-hazardous waste disposal site as defined by provincial regulation. This site will not accept hazardous waste. In fact, our company does not deal in hazardous waste. This site will accept solid non-hazardous industrial-commercial wastes, of which about half will be soils. BFI Canada adheres to the strict provincial regulatory guidelines, as well as our own internal guidelines for what it can and cannot accept.
(Source: Appendix 20: Operations Plan – p.3)
Will the construction of Prairie Sky affect any endangered wildlife species?
No endangered wildlife species have been found on the site over the course of thorough, independent wildlife and habitat data collection investigations.
(Source: Appendix 10: Biophysical Impact Assessment – p.28)
Some residents are worried about their views of the landscape being blocked.
Has Prairie Sky accounted for this?
We have gone to significant lengths to minimize any visual disruption and to ensure the final site will fit in with the local landscape. Our final slopes will be significantly lower than the high point in the area, Simon’s Hill, and will blend in well with the foothills prairie landscape.
To determine the visual impact of Prairie Sky, we have created accurate computer maps and photo simulations to show the height and position of the facility and other features on the site as viewed from various directions as the site is developed overtime. These are available to anyone who wants to view them.
(Source: Appendix 9: V.I.A. and Landscape Design Approach)
Will it be a noisy operation?
The equipment used at the site – mainly trucks and earth movers -- will create noise levels typical of farm operations and other industry in the area. The cumulative noise from the operation will be much less than that generated by regular traffic on Highway 23.
Trucks and other vehicles accessing and operating at the site will be equipped with low-decibel back up alarms to minimize noise.
As well, the actual landfill operation itself occupies only a small portion of the overall site. It will be surrounded by buffer zones, including screening and vegetation, which aid in minimizing noise.
(Source: Appendix 20: Operations Plan – p.27)
I am worried about odour. What impact will there be on air quality?
This will be a non-hazardous Class II site that will primarily accept solid industrial commercial wastes, of which about half will be soils. The design of the site and the types of materials accepted ensure that there will be very little odour generated. The design of the site operational procedures, and types of materials accepted will ensure that any potential odours will be minimized.
Furthermore, as a part of the site’s operation, the cells where materials will be placed will be covered and sealed each day to avoid potential odours. BFI Canada is a leader in building modern, highly engineered recovery centres. Our best practices ensure there is little to no impact on our neighbours.
(Source: Appendix 20: Operations Plan – p.25)
How will you avoid water table contamination?
The single most important factor in locating and designing any type of waste management facility is complete protection of your drinking water. Alberta Environment will not approve the project unless it is proven that all water protection standards will be met.
The site geology is ideally suited for Prairie Sky. The natural properties of the clay soils at the site exceed Alberta Environment’s requirements and are more than twice the required thickness for a non-hazardous Class II landfill.
In addition to this, to demonstrate our commitment to protecting drinking water, BFI Canada will exceed the requirements outlined by the Government of Alberta by installing a synthetic liner. As a further precaution, groundwater will be monitored regularly.
(Source: Appendix 12: Detailed Hydrology Assessment Report)
Will garbage collection fees increase in the region after Prairie Sky is operational?
Will much high quality agricultural land be affected by the development of Prairie Sky?
It is important to recognize that a sizable portion of the Prairie Sky site is currently wetland and native prairie fescue. Parts of the property are considered class 4 and 5 farmland and there are pockets isolated by the road allowance and railway right of way that inhibit agricultural use. Part of the Colliton farm will remain in production and no Class 1 farmland will be impacted by the project. While some Class 2 farmland will be impacted, biodiversity in the area will actually be enhanced with the expansion of prairie wetland and grassland features of the site.
(Source: Appendix 13 - Agricultural Assessment)
There has been a lot in the news lately about the benefits of incineration. Why doesn’t the Prairie Sky site feature an incinerator?
Most jurisdictions in North America consider incineration to be a disposal technology. Prairie Sky believes in the merits of waste diversion strategies, like recycling and composting, which are necessary to meet the provincial target of 80% of waste being diverted from disposal.
This is why we are investing so heavily in new, modern infrastructure in southern Alberta, so that we can help the M.D. of Foothills, the southern Alberta region and the entire province reach this impressive goal. We believe that waste is a resource that should not be wasted. The Prairie Sky Resource Centre will allow us to harvest the inherent value in this material for the benefit of future generations. Only residual waste that has no recoverable value will be sent for final disposal.