UPDATE: This was approved at committee.
Plans are in the works for a $50 million expansion of the Calgary Composting Facility, but it will likely mean a modest monthly increase in green cart fees.
The matter will come to the city’s Infrastructure and Planning (I&P) committee on Friday. Administration is asking for approval to negotiate an agreement for the facility expansion. That would add 60,000 tonnes per year processing capacity.
The Calgary Composting Facility, which opened its doors in 2017, is operating over its design capacity, according to a city admin report. The facility is designed to handle 100,000 and 145,000 tonnes of food and yard waste annually, according to the city.
“Additional processing capacity is required to ensure that the food and yard waste is diverted from the landfill in a financially and environmentally responsible manner,” the city report stated.
City administration has asked for a capital budget appropriation of $50 million. A proposed bylaw allows them to incur debt of $30 million to partially fund the design and construction. A combination of other sources is cited to cover the remaining amount.
The ongoing added operations expense and debt servicing would be partially offset by the sale of biogas from the facility. The city report notes that the net impact to Calgary homeowners in the green cart program would be 20 cents per month over the 2023 to 2026 budget cycle.
Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, chair of the I&P committee, said it’s a nominal monthly increase that saves money in the future. The cost to construct, operate and maintain a new landfill is restrictive.
“I expect some Calgarians will be totally fine with this while others will not,” he said.
“Given that Calgarians have embraced the green cart service so enthusiastically – this expansion being driven by that enthusiasm – I hope the majority appreciate the necessity and cost.”
Meeting current needs, maybe not future
City administration said they’d done a detailed analysis on the best way to move forward on excess compost processing. They looked at the expansion, along with the potential contracting out of excess green cart material to a private provider.
They found the expansion to be the better solution, the report said.
The one concern Carra has with the proposal is that it’s focused on current needs. It doesn’t necessarily look at future capacity.
With that in mind, he thinks they should revisit their decision to stay out of the multi-family and commercial composting markets.
“These represent two-thirds of compostable waste generated in Calgary and the uptake and market response is decidedly worse than what the city has been experiencing with the green cart program,” Carra said.
The facility is currently operated by AIM Environmental group. They say the facility can handle up to 145,000 tonnes of organics and dewatered biosolids annually.
The current agreement in place allows the city to expand or improve the facility.
If the matter is approved Friday, it will still need final approval at a full meeting of city council.
Should the project move ahead, it’s expected to be complete in 2025.