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Maple Ridge drafts plan to shut old landfill

An old photograph of the Maple Ridge dump - aka the Cottonwood landfill. - http://rmrecycling.org
An old photograph of the Maple Ridge dump - aka the Cottonwood landfill.
— image credit: http://rmrecycling.org

Despite being shut down for 25 years, Maple Ridge’s former municipal dump will never be safe to build on.

Staff presented a plan to council Monday to close down the Cottonwood landfill, located between 116th and 114A Avenues.

Operated from the mid 1960s until its closure in 1989, the dump was covered with an earth cap to compress rotting garbage and allow the site to settle.

The site is also equipped with a system that captures and burns the methane gas formed by the decomposing garbage underground.

A quarter of a century later however, the landfill is still unstable, thus limiting what can be constructed on it. Some dump sites take as much as 50 years before they can be remediated.

David Boag, director of parks and facilities, said the site has been included in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows parks capital plan for years, and will likely become a “passive park”. It’s too unstable even for a sports field.

“We are going to be very, very restricted about what we can do on that site,” said Boag, noting even playground equipment could damage its protective membrane.

Ministry of Environment wants the District of Maple Ridge to proceed with a formal closure  plan for the Cottonwood landfill by July 1, 2014.

Russ Carmichael, Maple Ridge’s director of engineering operations says that entails test pitting, a geotechnical review, the assembly of geographic information, preparing a filling plan, analysing soil quantities and types, gas system analysis and search for grant to help offset costs.

The estimated engineering costs for this work is $50,000 and the total 2014 budget is $200,000.

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