Tipping fees over the tipping point

Increased tipping fees are costing the Summerland landfill revenue

An Okanagan waste hauler says rising landfill fees are making it hard for him to remain competitive.

David Appleton, co-owner of Appleton Waste Services, says an increase in tipping fees at the Summerland landfill is forcing him to take his business elsewhere.

Appleton received a letter from the District of Summerland in early May advising him that as of May 15, tipping fees for loads over 100 kilogrammes were increasing from $65 a tonne to $110.

The reason given is a need to ensure the financial stability and viability of the landfill, as well as keeping Summerland’s fees in line with neighbouring municipalities. The letter references “landfill shopping” as having a possible negative impact.

Lynda Tynan, the district’s chief administrative officer, explains that district’s concern is to limit the amount of refuse being brought in from other communities, noting that the landfill is expected to last about 50 years more before a new location will have to be found.

“The main reason we try to stay consistent with the rates in the RDOS is so that people from Penticton don’t go to Summerland and Summerland doesn’t go to Penticton,” said Tynan, adding that the district also has a bylaw banning refuse from outside the jurisdiction.

“At one point they (Appleton Waste) were bringing other garbage into our landfill that was not from within the jurisdiction and we stopped them,” said Tynan. “We knew that there was a lot of going to different boundaries happening. When they are similar rates for similar services, then that solves itself to a large degree.”

Appleton said the $65 a tonne rate has been consistent since they started in 2013. The RDOS increased rates over a couple of years he said, and now Summerland made the same increase all at once.

The Central Okanagan Regional District landfills remain at $65/tonne, but Tynan points out that Summerland’s landfill is an hour away from Kelowna, but only ten minutes from Penticton.

“We could have a lot of people (coming from Kelowna) if our rates were much lower, but we find the biggest crossover are the ones closest to us, such as Penticton,” said Tynan.

“We want to serve our community. That is one of the reasons for trying to stay competitive with the rates around, so you are not getting all of the waste from outlying areas,” said Tynan. “We have a Summerland landfill to serve the Summerland residents.”

Appleton said they are a Summerland company, and they use both the local landfill and Campbell Mountain.

“We haul some of our waste into Penticton’s landfill at Campbell Mountain and some into Summerland. We have ever since we bought Okanagan Waste back in 2013,” said Appleton. “Nothing has changed there, except our business has grown pretty substantially since that point so our volumes have gone up.

Appleton said it’s a small amount in terms of landfill volume, four loads a week maximum, but that adds up to about $30,000 a month income for Summerland.

“I get this letter and the increase of 70 per cent, with no notice, to our disposal fees, which clearly we have to pass along to our customers. We’re passing along as much as we think we can, which is about 20 per cent,” said Appleton. “That doesn’t cover the increase in our costs, obviously, but the reason we’ve done that is to try and protect ourselves from our competition who are probably salivating at this opportunity to come in and go after our customer base which is predominantly Summerland.”

Appleton is taking it a step further. With the rates so high, he’s looking at $35/tonne tipping rate in Alberta and purchased a rig to haul refuse there.

“All-in I could do it less than that new rate here in Summerland,” said Appleton. “It’s really disheartening when a community like this is turning away $30,000 a month, and that’s what it is, in disposal revenue that could be going back into this community and should be going back into this community. It’s all going to be gone.”

Tynan contends city records don’t show Appleton Waste spending “anywhere near that amount,” at the Summerland landfill and the amount wouldn’t justify the cost of taking it to another province.

“The volumes aren’t that high,” she said.