Engineers give Tehkummah thumbs-up on landfill expansion, thumbs down on aging township buildings

TEHKUMMAH – Two engineers’ reports submitted to the Township of Tehummah in recent months offer mixed news to the township, with engineers determining that its landfill can withstand expansion if given ministry approval, but an assessment into the state of two municipal buildings recommended hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of potential upgrades.

In “great news for the township,” DST Consulting Engineers delivered a hydrogeological assessment regarding the potential expansion of the South Baymouth landfill, which determined that the site would be suitable for an expansion. DST also submitted a landfill site design and operations report that would enable the township to get use of its landfill for at least two more decades.

“In my experience with other landfills on the Island, we have a generous amount of space surrounding it in the attenuation zone, which provides us the ability to be able to do this, to expand and to continue using it,” Tehkummah clerk-administrator Silvio Berti said at the March council meeting.

The hydrogeological assessment looks at the landform and water flow through the area, both surface-water and groundwater, to determine if there are any risks for harm with a given land use.

“Hopefully, we can get the general public who use it to continue to recycle and keep what they put in the landfill in the back of their mind; that, ultimately, the less you put in, the longer it will last and the less cost it’ll be for the taxpayers,” he added, noting that some Island municipalities have begun to fill their dumps and now face increased costs to ship their garbage off-Island.

The current landfill, begun around 1960, is at its current waste volume limit of 18,410 m3 and engineers have prepared plans to expand its waste holding area to 39,055 m3. This will give it capacity until 2043, according to estimated waste projections.

The landfill area footprint will grow from 0.6 to 1.3 hectares but the site will remain below the 40,000-cubic-metre threshold of a small-scale landfill. This exempts it from the provisions of the Environmental Assessment Act.

Tehkummah can continue to use its landfill status-quo until the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOECP) grants or denies approval.

“It sounds as though our (municipal crews) will be able to do a lot of the work as far as getting the place ready for expansion?” asked Reeve David Jaggard.

Mr. Berti said yes, that much of the work involves jobs such as clearing the perimeter and building berms with the existing soil, but all the work would have to follow guidance and be inspected.

Council voted to receive the hydrogeological assessment report and the expansion’s design and operations report.

In the same meeting, council received a report from another engineering company that assessed the state of Tehkummah’s municipal building and its public works garage. These reports offered non-binding suggestions for improving problem areas with both buildings, which would cost the township hundreds of thousands of dollars if it were to act on all of the identified items.

In the municipal building, engineers found interior surfaces are largely older than their expected service lives but are performing well, the slab for the backup generator installed last year does not appear to have been designed or properly constructed, the mechanical system of the boiler and piping is past its service life and the building could benefit from adding more air movement, as the only current system is the Lifebreath unit that does not run in the summer.

Most of the building’s plumbing is past its service life and the electrical panels and breakers, while they serve the building’s current needs, are old and should be replaced.

Engineers could not determine what the fire hall’s propane generator provides power to and it recommended upgrades to more efficient interior lighting.

In response to the concrete generator slab, Mr. Berti said the township often avoids hiring engineers for projects in order to save costs and get work done faster, but this is an example of why suggestions about completing reports should be raised beforehand. Councillor Michael McKenzie noted that he had expressed concerns before the concrete went in. 

Completing all of the recommended upgrades in the municipal building’s report would carry a rough cost of $216,500, based on preliminary estimates.

On the public works garage, which has been known to have issues for some time and is labeled as poor to very poor condition, engineers found many of the major interior and exterior systems have gone beyond their expected life and have performance issues, the electrical system is adequate but old and should be updated if any renovations take place, lighting is poor and should all get swapped to LEDs both inside and out, and ventilation standards are at the minimum requirements, which is a health and safety concern. The concrete block wall in the tractor storage area showed signs of potential mold growth.

While the report’s findings were troubling, they were expected, Mr. Berti told The Expositor.

“I’ve indicated from being in (the building) that it needed to be addressed. It’s an old building and they don’t last forever, so it’s ultimately time to make some repairs or modifications,” he said. “We have put money in the budget to get the building designed and we will be looking for funding to do it, but ultimately we can’t do it until we get the funding.”