The Outaouais has given itself five to six years to agree on a regional garbage incinerator, waste-to-energy or biofuel plant so area municipalities won't have to continue shipping their garbage to a landfill near Lachute.
Gatineau Councillor Patrice Martin said Monday the city, and the regional municipalities of Pontiac, Papineau and the Collines-de-l'Outaouais have signed a contract to ship their garbage to Lachute for another 30 months, but said it will take at least five years to agree on an alternative to landfill sites.
"Outaouais municipalities have formed a committee to determine the most appropriate technology and location for a regional solution for the post-landfill era," Mr. Martin said. "This committee should start its work within two weeks.
"Everything is on the table. There are different technologies, including plasma gasification, like Ottawa is testing, incineration and using waste to produce ethanol. We want to look at the pros and cons in terms of economics and the environment."
Mr. Martin said Gatineau's intention is to become responsible for its own waste instead of shipping it outside the region.
Starting this year, Gatineau will phase in an ambitious composting and recycling program that is expected to divert 65 per cent of the city's garbage from landfill sites by 2011.
The city plans to build a plant south of the Gatineau executive airport for composting, sorting recyclable material, and shipping garbage that can't be recycled or composted to Lachute, halfway to Montreal. Composting will start in 2009 in some neighbourhoods.
Each household will receive a free waist-high 360-litre wheeled plastic recycling bin by spring 2008. Free 45-litre containers for table scraps will be available starting in 2009.
The waste diversion project will increase garbage disposal costs included in property tax bills to $189 a year per household in 2011 from $111 a year.
Michèle Borchers, vice-president of the Coalition Against the Danford Lake Megadump, said the decision to send the region's waste to Lachute is good because it means that a landfill at Danford Lake is less likely.
Ms. Borchers said the contract with the Lachute landfill gives Outaouais municipalities time to develop alternatives. She said recommendations from the Outaouais regional waste committee are expected by September 2008.
Opponents of the proposed Danford Lake landfill on Highway 301, located an hour north of Gatineau, are concerned that runoff from the site could leak into the pristine Picanoc River and wells that provide drinking water.
© Ottawa Citizen 2008