This year marks the 50th anniversary of a decision that radically altered Delta's landscape
In 1962, the municipality wholeheartedly approved being the host of the Vancouver Landfill.
It was May of that year when then reeve Clarence Taylor announced at a Delta Chamber of Commerce dinner that a draft agreement was ready for finalization for the use of Burns Bog for the City of Vancouver's refuse.
Taylor, noting many meetings had been held with Vancouver engineers as well as experts from the U.S. and Canada on sanitary fills, said the disposal of refuse in Delta would solve Delta's garbage problems, clear an unsightly and unsanitary incinerator from North Delta and provide approximately 1,000 acres of reclaimed land to Delta.
Delta's garbage would be accepted and covered for free.
Later that month, Delta council authorized the bylaw and sent it to a public hearing that summer.
The idea of using Burns Bog as a landfill first surfaced in 1961, when a private company tried to get permission to develop it in the Sunbury area. Alderman Carl Liden and area residents at that time objected, expressing fears about smells, vermin, polluted water, smoke and dust. Another private company also tried to locate there but was turned down.
Later in 1961, however, council agreed on the use of the bog as a sanitary landfill in a different area. Asked if he agreed to the proposed landfill, Liden then said he thought it was an excellent use of the bog.
The 1962 deal would see the municipality receive $20,000 a year from Vancouver to cover taxes, permits, licences, maintenance of roads used by the City of Vancouver, royalties and other incidental expenses.
Only refuse from Vancouver and Delta would be accepted unless both parties agreed otherwise.
It was reported by the Optimist in July of 1962 that Delta ratepayers present at the public hearing on the rezoning of the approximately 1,000 acres of land offered no protest to the plan.
Taylor at that hearing gave assurances that precautions would be made, including keeping water in drainage ditches and other watercourses free from pollutants,
Once completed, the change in elevation would not be more than 20 feet, while the land reportedly could be transformed into recreational areas, airstrips or parks.
The landfill officially opened on Jan. 1, 1966.
The agreement back then was for a term of 30 years, seeing about 30 acres filled annually.
In 1999, Vancouver and Delta entered into a new long-term agreement regarding the operation of the Vancouver Landfill. The operational life was extended to 2037, as garbage would be permitted to be piled higher on the existing footprint. In return, Delta would get increased royalties as well as several hundred unused acres.
The landfill is currently used by Vancouver, Delta, Richmond, White Rock, the University Endowment Lands and parts of South Surrey.
New ambitious regional waste diversion targets will reduce the amount of trash that will end up in the dump, but the target date for the landfill's closure remains unchanged.
A recent report by the Vancouver Landfill Technical Liaison Committee notes that the City of Vancouver is in the process of updating the design and operating Plan for the landfill to reflect the new regional Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan. The new plan will have a focus on maximizing landfill gas collection and minimizing the areas of the landfill that are "open" so that progressive closure will continue.