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This article was published 6/2/2009 (2999 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Public works spokesman Ken Allen said that even though he said last spring that the department was considering recycling the 45,000 tonnes of salt, sand and debris that accumulate every winter because it was running out of space at the Brady Road landfill, the review never happened.
Instead, Allen said the department would continue to bury the springtime grit at the landfill and at snow dump sites located across the city.
"Recycling was considered too cost-prohibitive and it's still considered cost-prohibitive," Allen said, adding he doesn't have studies to determine the cost-effectiveness.
Allen said the review of the city's practice of burying its sand and salt never occurred in 2008 because there was no money in the budget to do the review.
Allen said senior officials in public works told him Thursday that the review would now take place after funds are put in place in the 2009 operating budget, which is to be approved by city council in March.
Allen could not provide the budget for the review.
Among North American cities, only Edmonton, which was recently identified in an annual survey as Canada's most sustainable large city, recycles the sand and salt that accumulate over the winter.
An Edmonton official said that city used to send 110,000 tonnes of sand, salt and debris to the landfill every spring but since it implemented a recycling program, all but 7,000 tonnes is recovered.
Bob Dunford, Edmonton's director of roadway maintenance, said the city saves between $5 million and $6 million annually through the recycling initiative, earned mostly by reusing sand that would have ended up in the landfill -- saving money on landfill charges -- and by buying back the recycled sand at a considerable savings over the market price of fresh sand.
In the Sustainable City survey, conducted annually by Corporate Knights Magazine, Winnipeg was ranked last out of six communities in the medium-city category. The survey ranks cities in the areas of ecological integrity, economic security, governance and empowerment, infrastructure and built environment, and social well-being.
Winnipeg received two last-place scores (ecological integrity, governance and empowerment), a third (economic security), fourth (social well-being) and fifth (infrastructure and built environment).
When all 17 Canadian communities in the three categories of large, medium and small cities are grouped together, Winnipeg placed 11th, ahead of only the small cities of Saint John, N.B., Charlottetown, P.E.I., Whitehorse, Yukon, and St. John's, N.L.
The City of Winnipeg budgeted $3.5 million last year for its annual spring cleanup but, unlike Edmonton, does not account for any landfill charges it would have to pay. Even with the recycling program, Dunford said Edmonton's landfill is almost full and the city will have to pay commercial rates for any winter sand it sends to a privately run landfill.
In mid-April 2008, Allen said the city had always considered recycling the sand and salt too cost-prohibitive, but added that with space at a premium, public works officials would reconsider such an initiative.
The gold in Edmonton's dirt
$4.5 million - $5.5 million: Estimated annual savings to Edmonton by not sending 110,000 tonnes of winter sand, salt and debris to a landfill.
$704,000: Average annual cost to divert the 110,000 tonnes of winter street sand to a recycling firm. (The recycling firm charges a rate of $6.40 per tonne.)
88,000 tonnes: Amount of recycled winter street sand Edmonton buys back from the recycler to be used the following winter.
$250,000: Savings from buying recycled sand compared to market price.
15,000 tonnes: Amount of fine sand and gravel extracted from the recycling process that Edmonton uses for other purposes.
7,000 tonnes: Amount of winter debris that Edmonton now sends to the landfill every spring after the rest has been recycled.
$300,000-$350,000: Cost to send this material to the landfill.
$4.8 million - $5.8 million:
Estimated net annual savings to Edmonton by recycling winter street sand.